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What is HPV?

HPV stands for Human papillomavirus and is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Often, HPV has no signs or symptoms, so many times people do not know they have an HPV infection. This allows the infection to spread quickly. HPV can cause genital warts and some types of HPV can lead to cancer.

How does the HPV vaccine help?

The HPV vaccine is safe and effective in protecting against the types of HPV most likely to cause genital warts and cancer. The vaccine works best when it’s given before a person becomes sexually active.

How is the HPV vaccine given?

Your provider’s office can schedule you for an appointment to get your HPV vaccine. The vaccine is given as a series of shots, based on age.

  • Ages 9-14 are given 2 shots. The second shot is recommended 6-12 months after the first shot.
  • Ages 15-26 are given 3 shots. The second shot is recommended 1-2 months after the first shot. The third shot is given 6 months after the first shot.
  • If you are older than 26 and have not been vaccinated, speak with your provider about getting the HPV vaccine. It is approved for people up to the age of 45.
  • If you miss a dose, you do not have to start over.
  • If you’ve already been diagnosed with HPV, talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine. There are many types of HPV and the vaccine may still provide you with protection against other types of the virus.

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

The HPV vaccine is not a live virus vaccine, so it cannot cause HPV. It is safe for patients over the age of 9 years old. The most common side effects are redness or soreness where the shot is given.

Does the HPV vaccine protect me from all types of HPV?

Although the HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that commonly cause genital warts and cancer, it does not protect against all types of HPV. The HPV vaccine is 97% effective in preventing cervical cancer and close to 100% effective in preventing genital warts.

Do I still need regular cervical cancer screening?

Even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine series, you should still have regular cervical cancer screening.

If you would like to speak with your provider about scheduling yourself or your child for the HPV vaccine, please call 713-442-0000.

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