HPV Vaccine: Prevention Is the Best Medicine

HPV Vaccine: Prevention Is the Best Medicine

Did you know there’s a vaccine that can lower your child’s chances of getting certain cancers? Learn more about the HPV vaccine and why it’s recommended for both adolescent girls and boys.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is very common. Currently 80 million Americans are infected with HPV, and approximately 14 million new cases develop each year.

Benefits of HPV Vaccine

Immunizations are safe, effective and have successfully reduced transmission of many deadly diseases. There are many different types of HPV, several of which are known to cause different cancers and genital warts. The HPV vaccine can help prevent these cancers.

Immunize Nevada, in partnership with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health and Nevada Cancer Coalition, launched HPV Free NV, a statewide campaign to raise awareness and increase HPV vaccinations that could prevent cancer.

What is HPV?

As uncomfortable as it can be to talk about sexually transmitted infections, the HPV types that cause cancer and genital warts are sexually transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. However, HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active people will be exposed at some point in their lifetime. 

What is HPV’s connection to cancer?

HPV is perhaps best known for causing cervical cancer. And men are actually four times more likely than women to suffer from HPV-associated oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer. Other cancers related to HPV are anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile and oropharyngeal cancers.

Is the HPV vaccination safe? 

HPV vaccines are continually monitored for their safety and effectiveness. Since the vaccine was first released in 2006, health care providers have given millions of doses across the globe and no serious safety concerns have been found. All vaccines used in the U.S. are required to go through extensive safety testing before they are released to use.

Studies have shown that two doses of HPV vaccine given at least six months apart to adolescents at age 9–14 years worked as well or better than three doses given to older adolescents and young adults. Studies have not been done to show this for adolescents starting the series at age 15 years or older.


What are the side effects?

Some mild side effects can occur. The most common reaction is a sore arm where the injection was given. Swelling and redness can also occur at the injection site. Some other side effects include dizziness, fainting, nausea, and headache. Fainting is a common reaction for any adolescent vaccine. To reduce the risk of injury, an adolescent should sit or lie down for 15 minutes after the vaccine is administered.

How long does it last?

HPV vaccines are very effective in producing a high immune response. According to multiple research studies, protection from HPV vaccine is long lasting and lasts through the most critical time period for exposure. At this time, a booster is not recommended.

Are there programs for free or reduced-cost HPV vaccination?

Yes, there are programs that can help. The Affordable Care Act requires all new private insurance plans to cover HPV vaccines if the patient is within the recommended age group of 9-26 years of age and an in-network provider administers the vaccine. Public insurance plans, such as Medicaid, will also cover the HPV vaccine within the recommended age group. We recommend calling your insurance company ahead of time to make sure the vaccine is covered.

If the vaccine is not covered under insurance, a child may be covered through Vaccines for Children, a program that pays for vaccines for children younger than age 19 who are Medicaid eligible, uninsured or underinsured, or American Indian or Alaskan Native throughout the state of Nevada. For more information on VFC Nevada please visit: http://www.vfcnevada.org/.

Contributed by Immunize Nevada