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HPV is one of the most common STDs out there, so it’s a big relief to know that vaccines will protect you against some types of HPV that can cause problems

What is HPV Vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is against certain types of human papilloma virus (HPV) which is responsible for certain cancers and genital warts.The HPV vaccine protects against:

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  • HPV types 16 and 18 – these2 types are the cause for 80% of cervical cancer.
  • HPV types 6 and 11 – responsible for 90% of genital warts.
  • Another 5 types of HPV (types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58) that can lead to cancer other parts like anus, vulva/vagina, penis, throat and cervix also.
Cervarix vaccine16,18
Gardesil qv6,11,16,18
Gardesil 96,11,16,18,31,33,45,52,58

Who needs HPV Vaccine?

Almost every person who is sexually active will be infected from this virus at some point of their life. Most of the HPV infections will be cleared from the body by its immune mechanism

But in some persons these infections are not cleared and can cause certain types of cancer. This can not be predicted in which persons it will be cleared and in which it will persist.

HPV can cause cancers of the:

  • Cervix
  • Vagina and Vulva
  • Anus
  • Penis
  • Oropharangeal cancers ( throat cancer)

Reasons to get HPV vaccination done

HPV vaccination is helpful in preventing HPV infections which may later cause some cancers or precancer lesions

In persons who have been vaccinated with HPV the vaccine, these viruses are cleared from the body. After the vaccination, the body produces antibodies that clear this virus. And hence HPV infection will not cause cancer or precancer lesions. The idea is to vaccinate all the kids at 11-12 years of age before they start their sexual activity.

How many shots in HPV vaccination?

Number of doses required for HPV vaccination depends on the age. If the vaccine is given till 14 years of age only 2 doses are given.

Early protection works best

So HPV vaccines are recommended before being sexually active

2 doses of HPV vaccine are recommended for all children between 9 to 14 years of age

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  • In a 2-dose schedule ,the second dose should be given 6–12 months after the first dose
  • The minimum interval is 5 months between the first and second dose. The second dose should not be administered before 5 months otherwise a third dose may become necessary.

3-dose schedule is recommended for people who get the first dose after 14 years of age.

HPV Vaccine
  • In a 3-dose schedule, the second dose should be given 2months after the first dose, and the third dose should be given 6 months after the first dose (0, 2, 6-month schedule).This is in case of Gardesil vaccine.
  • If cervarix vaccine is used ,the dose schedule is 0,1,6 months.
  • Gardesil vaccine is against HPV types 6,11,16,18
  • Cervarix vaccine is against HPV types 16,18

Are HPV Vaccines safe?

These HPV Vaccines have been rigorously tested before they can be widely distributed. The HPV vaccines were tested on thousands of people and shown to be safe before they were released to the public. These vaccines have been used for years now, and experts say the chance of them causing a serious reaction is very low


The most common side effects of the HPV vaccine are minor:

  • Mild fever
  • Itching at the injection site.
  • Pain at injection site
  • Mild nausea
  • Headache

These symptoms do not require any treatment

Who Should Not Receive the HPV Vaccine?

Certain people should not get the HPV vaccine or should wait before getting it:

  • Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of the HPV vaccine should not receive any further dose.
  • Pregnant women may postpone their vaccination schedule.

Should I take HPV Vaccine if already infected with HPV or have abnormal paps smear test?

It should be noted that HPV vaccination prevents new HPV infections but does not treat existing HPV infections.So HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV.

Most sexually active adults have already been exposed to HPV. Even if infected with HPV once,they may be re infected with another strain of HPV.Though not necessarily all of the HPV types targeted by vaccination. At any age, having a new sex partner is a risk factor for getting a new HPV infection.

Ideally, patients should be vaccinated before onset of sexual activity. People who have already been infected with one or more HPV types will still be protected from other HPV types in the vaccine that have not been acquired.

I am already vaccinated with HPV Vaccine.Do I need to be screened for cervical cancer by paps smear test?

Yes, vaccinated women will still need regular cervical cancer screening because the vaccine protects against most but not all HPV types that cause cervical cancer. Also, women who got the vaccine after becoming sexually active may not get the full benefit of the vaccine if they had already been exposed to HPV.

Are there other ways to prevent cervical cancer?

Regular cervical cancer screening (Pap and HPV DNA tests) can prevent most cases of cervical cancer.

Know more: What you should know about Paps smear test

The Pap test can detect cell changes in the cervix in precancer state before they turn into cancer. Screening can detect most, but not all, cervical cancers at an early stage that can be treated.


  • HPV Vaccine helps protect against diseases caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) such as genital warts and certain types of cancer such as cervical cancer.
  • It does not cure an existing HPV infection.
  • If you are 9 to 14 years of age, you will be given a 2 dose schedule (0 and 6 months). If you are 15 years or above, you will be given a 3 dose schedule (0,2 and 6 months).
  • It does not protect against every type of HPV. Take precautions against sexually transmitted diseases and follow your doctor’s advice.
  • It is necessary that you complete the full vaccination schedule as discussed. If you forget to take according to schedule,consult your doctor.



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