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Facts About...

HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV) VACCINE


What is it?

HPV vaccine protects against certain types of human papillomaviruses that can cause cervical cancer, genital cancers, precancerous lesions, anal cancer, certain cancers of the head and neck, and genital warts. There are three HPV vaccines that are approved for use in Canada:

  • Gardasil®9 protects against nine types of HPV (6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58) and is publicly funded (free) for people who are eligible.
  • Gardasil® protects against four types of HPV (6, 11, 16, and 18) and is publicly funded (free) for people who are eligible.
  • Cervarix® protects against two types of HPV (16 and 18) but is not publicly funded (free). Talk to your health care provider for more information.

For more information on the disease, see Facts About... Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

How effective is the HPV vaccine?

The vaccines are highly effective in protecting against the cancers and genital warts associated with HPV. Both Gardasil® vaccines can prevent approximately 70% of anogenital cancers and 60% of high-risk precancerous cervical lesions.

Who should receive the HPV vaccine?

Gardasil® and Gardasil®9 are approved for females between 9 and 45 years of age, and males between 9 and 26 years of age. HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen girls and boys ages 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine also produces a higher immune response during the preteen’s years than it does in older adolescents.

Who can receive the HPV vaccine for free?

Gardasil®9 vaccine is free for all grade 7 students through the Health Department’s school immunization program. Gardasil® vaccine is also free for boys born in 2004, as well as girls in grades 8 to 12 who have missed one or more doses through the HPV school immunization program.

Gardasil®9 vaccine is publicly funded (free), available at a Health Department Sexual Health Clinic, to men who have sex with men and who are 26 years of age or younger, and have not yet started an HPV vaccine series.

Individuals who do not meet publicly funded criteria can pay for the HPV vaccine (Gardasil®9) through their health care provider or at a Health Department Sexual Health Clinic (ages 12 years and older). The cost is approximately $600 for the full series.

What is the schedule for the vaccine?

Vaccine

Age

Dose 1

Dose 2

Dose 3

Gardasil®

9-13 years
14 years and older

Initial dose
Initial dose

6 months later
2 months later

N/A
4 months after Dose 2

Gardasil®9

9-14 years
15 years and older

Initial dose
Initial dose

6 months later
2 months later

N/A
4 months after Dose 2

Are there side effects with the vaccine?

There is no risk of getting an HPV infection from receiving the vaccine. Studies have shown the HPV vaccine to be safe, with similar side effects reported as with other vaccines. The most common side effects of the vaccine are pain, redness, and swelling at the site of injection. Side effects are usually mild to moderate and go away within a few days. A cold, wet compress to the site and/or using acetaminophen can help relieve pain and/or swelling after vaccination.
Severe allergic reactions or other reported side effects after vaccination are very rare and may not be related to the vaccine. However, if you think a serious reaction is developing, seek medical attention right away. Unusual or significant changes in your health or your child’s health following vaccination should be reported to a doctor and to the Health Department.

Who should NOT get the vaccine?

  • Pregnant women
  • Persons less than 9 years of age
  • Anyone sick with fever or serious infection (worse than a cold), should wait until they feel better to be vaccinated.
  • Anyone who has had an allergic or severe reaction to a previous dose of any vaccine (talk to your health care provider). Any component in a vaccine may be a potential allergen. The most common allergen for Gardasil® and Gardasil®9 is yeast protein.

For more information on the contents of the vaccine, refer to the Canadian Immunization Guide Evergreen edition.

September 20, 2017