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HPV Vaccine FAQs

General info about HPV vaccine
Safety
Effectiveness
How/where to get the HPV vaccine
Who should get the HPV vaccine and when


General info about HPV vaccine

What is the HPV vaccine?
How long has the HPV vaccine been approved? 
What is Gardasil®?
Are there other types of HPV vaccine?
Does a woman still need Pap tests if she is vaccinated?

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What is the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is a series of three shots that prevent most cervical cancers and genital warts due to HPV.  It works by protecting against the four types of HPV that most commonly cause these diseases.  The vaccine currently available is called Gardasil®. It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for girls and women ages 9-26.[1]

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How long has the HPV vaccine been approved?

The HPV vaccine has been approved for use by girls and women 9-26 years old since 2006.[2]

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What is Gardasil®?

Gardasil® is the brand name for the HPV vaccine that is currently available.  It is the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).  In June 2006, Gardasil® was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.[3]

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Are there other types of HPV vaccine?

Another HPV vaccine called Cervarix® (being developed by GlaxoSmithKline) is in the final stages of clinical testing, but it is not yet licensed.  This vaccine would protect against the two types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.[4]

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Does a woman still need Pap tests if she is vaccinated?

Yes, they will still need to see their healthcare provider for a Pap test.  Regular Pap tests are recommended for all women starting within three years of when a girl/woman begins sexual activity or at age 21, whichever comes first.  The vaccine will not provide protection against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, so women will still be at risk for some cancers.[5]

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Information for FAQ answers was gathered from the following sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

 

References

1. FDA (2009).  Gardasil (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) Questions and Answers, http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm096052.htm.

2. FDA (2009).  Gardasil (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) Questions and Answers, http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm096052.htm.

3. CDC (2008).  Information from CDC and FDA on the Safety of Gardasil® Vaccine, http://www.cdc.gov/features/HPVvaccineSafety/.

4. CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm.

5. CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm.

 


Safety

How has the HPV vaccine been tested?
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine? 
Can the vaccine cause HPV?
Does the vaccine contain mercury or thimersol?

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How has the HPV vaccine been tested?

The safety of this vaccine was studied in 5 clinical trials before it was licensed.  There were over 21,000 girls and women ages 9 through 26 in the clinical trials.  CDC and FDA have been closely monitoring the safety of the HPV vaccine.  For more information see CDC’s web page on HPV vaccine safety.[1]

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What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?

Over 23 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been distributed in the United States and studies have shown no serious side effects.  The HPV vaccine has been widely studied in thousands of girls and women in the U.S. and around the world and like all vaccines its safety continues to be monitored by CDC and the FDA.  The most common side effect is brief soreness in the arm where the shot is given.[2] 

Mild problems that may occur with the HPV vaccine are:

These symptoms do not last long and go away on their own.

There have been some reports of fainting in teens after they got the vaccine.  Fainting is common after injections, especially in pre-teens and teens.  To help prevent injuries from falls, the CDC and FDA recommend that girls should sit or lie down for 15 minutes after receiving the HPV vaccine, or any other vaccine.[3]

For more information this link provides a pdf file of the CDC’s HPV vaccine information statement.

For more information see the CDC’s web page on HPV vaccine safety and frequently asked questions about HPV vaccine safety.

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Can the vaccine cause HPV?

No, Gardasil® is not a live virus vaccine; it does not contain the HPV virus and therefore, cannot cause the HPV infection.  For more information see the FDA’s product approval question and answers.[4]

 

Does the vaccine contain mercury or thimerosal?

No, there is no thimerosal or mercury in the vaccine.[5]

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Information for FAQ answers was gathered from the following sources: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

 

References

1. CDC (2009).  HPV vaccine safety, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaers/gardasil.htm.

2. CDC (2009).  HPV vaccine safety, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaers/gardasil.htm.

3. CDC (2007).  HPV Vaccine Information Statement, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-hpv.pdf.

4. FDA (2009). Gardasil (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) Questions and Answers, http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm096052.htm.

5. CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm.

 


Effectiveness

Does the HPV vaccine really prevent cervical cancer? 
How long does the HPV vaccine remain effective? 
What does the vaccine not protect against?
                                               

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Does the HPV vaccine really prevent cervical cancer? 

The vaccine is very effective.  It prevents infection with four types of HPV in young women who have not been previously exposed to these types of HPV.  The Gardasil® vaccine targets HPV types that cause up to 70% of all cervical cancers and about 90% of genital warts.

Several multinational studies were conducted to show how well Gardasil® worked in women between the ages of 16 and 26 by giving them either the vaccine or placebo.  The results showed that in women who had not already been infected, Gardasil® was nearly 100 percent effective in preventing precancerous cervical lesions, precancerous vaginal and vulvar lesions and genital warts caused by infection with the HPV types against which the vaccine is directed.[1]

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How long does the HPV vaccine remain effective?

The length of vaccine protection (immunity) is usually not known when a vaccine is first introduced.  So far, studies have found that vaccinated persons are protected for at least five years. More research is being done to find out how long protection will last, and if a booster dose of vaccine will be needed.[2]

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What does the vaccine not protect against?

The vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV— so it will not prevent all cases of cervical cancer.  About 30% of cervical cancers will not be prevented by the vaccine, so it will be important for women to continue getting screened for cervical cancer (regular Pap tests).  Also, the vaccine does not prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, or HIV.  So it will still be important for sexually active persons to protect themselves against these other STIs.  The vaccine does not protect against pregnancy.[3]

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Information for FAQ answers was gathered from the following source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

 

References

1. FDA (2009).  Gardasil (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) Questions and Answers, http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm096052.htm.

2. CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm

3. CDC (2008).  HPV Vaccine Information For Young Women, http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/STDFact-HPV-vaccine-young-women.htm.

 


How/where do I get my daughter the HPV vaccine?

Where can I go to get my daughter the HPV vaccine?
Who can go to the Health Department to get the HPV vaccine?
How much will the HPV vaccine cost me? 
Can a girl get the vaccine without a parent's permission?

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Where can I go to get my daughter the HPV vaccine?

The local health department and other several other providers in your county offer HPV vaccine for girls with and without health insurance. 

Contact your daughter’s doctor to see if they offer the HPV vaccine and to schedule an appointment.  You can also visit your local health department where no appointment is needed. 

Click below for information about where to get the vaccine in your county.
Cumberland
Harnett
Richmond
Robeson

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Who can go to the Health Department to get the HPV vaccine? 

Your daughter can go to the health department to get the HPV vaccine.  Cost for this visit will depend on whether or not she qualifies for the state vaccine program and whether or not they accept her insurance.  For more information about cost see the following questions.  You can also contact your local health department to learn more about what it will cost you to get the HPV vaccine for your daughter at the health department.

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How much will the HPV vaccine cost me?

HPV vaccine is free or available at a low cost for most 9-18 year old girls in North Carolina through the North Carolina’s State Vaccine Program

North Carolina is a universal-select immunization state, meaning the state provides all required vaccines to public and private medical providers for all children from birth through 18 years of age at no charge, regardless of insurance status. In addition, children who qualify for the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program are eligible to receive all of the recommended vaccines, free of charge. HPV vaccine is recommended, but not required for girls and women 9-26 years old, however the state vaccination program provides this vaccine only for females 9 through 18 years of age. For more information on VFC visit the VFC web site.

When is a patient eligible for VFC vaccine?
To qualify to receive a recommended VFC vaccine, like the HPV vaccine, a child must be 18 years of age or younger, and meet at least ONE of the following criteria:

If she has private health insurance, your daughter’s doctor or health care provider can help you learn more about her coverage and if upfront payment is required.

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Can a girl get the vaccine without a parent's permission?

Yes. If your daughter is under 18 years of age, or she relies on your health care coverage and you refuse to pay for or okay the vaccine, in North

Carolina your daughter still has the legal right to get the vaccine.

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Information for FAQ answers was gathered from the following source: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

 

References

1. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (2008).  Vaccines for Children Program, http://www.immunizenc.com/VFC_NC.htm.

 


 

Who should get the HPV vaccine and when?

What if my daughter is NOT sexually active, should she still get the HPV vaccine?
What if my daughter is already sexually active, can she still get the HPV vaccine?
At what age should my daughter get the HPV vaccine?
How many shots will my daughter need? 
What if my daughter got one shot but missed the next dose?
Can an older person get the vaccine?
Who should not get the vaccine?
Why don't boys need the vaccine?
Is the vaccine required for school?

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What if my daughter is NOT sexually active, should she still get the HPV vaccine?

Yes.  Doctors recommend that girls get the vaccine prior to sexual contact where they could be exposed to the HPV virus.  The vaccine will not only protect her now but when she’s older.[1]

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What if my daughter is already sexually active, should she still get the HPV vaccine? 

The vaccine will not treat existing HPV infections or their complications.  The vaccine is most effective for girls/women who get vaccinated before their first sexual contact.  It does not work for those who contracted one of the virus types before getting the vaccine.  However, most women will still benefit from getting the vaccine because they will be protected against other virus types contained in the vaccine.[2]

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At what age should my daughter get the HPV vaccine?

The vaccine is most effective if received before girls become sexually active.  For the best protection against the HPV virus, doctors recommend vaccinating girls who are 11 and 12 years old.  The vaccine has been approved for girls and women up to the age of 26 and as young as 9.[3]

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How many shots will my daughter need?

Three injections are given over six months.  The second shot is given 2 months after the first shot, and the third shot is given 4 months later.  The best protection requires having all three shots.  HPV vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.[4]

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What if my daughter got one shot but missed the next dose?

It is not yet known how much protection girls/women would get from receiving only one or two doses of the vaccine.  For this reason, it is very important that girls/women get all three doses of the vaccine.  If the HPV vaccine schedule is interrupted, the vaccine series does not need to be restarted.  If the series is interrupted after the first dose, the second dose should be given as soon as possible, and the second and third doses should be separated by an interval of at least 12 weeks.  If only the third dose is delayed, it should be administered as soon as possible.[5]

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Can an older person get the vaccine?

The vaccine has been widely tested in 9 through 26 year old females.  The FDA may license the vaccine for older women when there is research to show it is safe and effective for them.[6]

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Who should not get the vaccine? 

According to Association of Reproductive Health Professionals’ recommendations, the HPV vaccine should not be administered to:

For more information please see the Association of Reproductive Health Professional’s HPV vaccine web page.

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Why don't boys need the vaccine?

At this time, the vaccine is not approved for use in boys or men.  Studies are being done.  When more information is available, this vaccine may be licensed and recommended for boys/men as well.[8]

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Is the vaccine required for school?

No.  The HPV vaccine is not required by North Carolina law for entry to school.  However, the vaccine is recommended along with several other vaccines for adolescents.[9]

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Information for FAQ answers was gathered from the following sources: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

 

References

1. CDC (2008).  HPV Vaccine Information For Young Women, http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/STDFact-HPV-vaccine-young-women.htm.

2. CDC (2008).  HPV Vaccine Information For Young Women, http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/STDFact-HPV-vaccine-young-women.htm.

3. CDC (2007).  Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  Morbidity and Mortality Report, 56(2), 1-24, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5602a1.htm.

4 CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm.

5. ARHP (2009).  Managing HPV: A New Era in Patient Care, http://www.arhp.org/publications-and-resources/quick-reference-guide-for-clinicians/managing-hpv/Vaccines.

6. CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm.

7. ARHP (2009).  Managing HPV: A New Era in Patient Care, http://www.arhp.org/publications-and-resources/quick-reference-guide-for-clinicians/managing-hpv/Vaccines.

8. CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm.

9. CDC (2008).  Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: HPV vaccine—Questions & Answers, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/vac-faqs.htm.

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