Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. More than half of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time in their lives.
About 20 million Americans are currently infected, and about 6 million more get infected each year. HPV is usually spread through sexual contact.
Most HPV infections don’t cause any symptoms, and go away on their own. But HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. Cervical cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world. In the United States, about 10,000 women get cervical cancer every year and about 4,000 are expected to die from it.
HPV is also associated with several less common cancers, such as vaginal and vulvar cancers in women and other types of cancer in both men and women. It can also cause genital warts and warts in the throat.
There is no cure for HPV infection, but some of the problems it causes can be treated.
HPV vaccine is important because it can prevent most cases of cervical cancer in females, if it is given before a person is exposed to the virus.
Protection from HPV vaccine is expected to be long-lasting. But vaccination is not a substitute for cervical cancer screening. Women should still get regular Pap tests.
The vaccine you are getting is one of two HPV vaccines that can be given to prevent cervical cancer. It is given to females only.
The other vaccine may be given to both males and females. It can also prevent most genital warts. It has also been shown to prevent some vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers.
Additional (booster) doses are not recommended.
HPV vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. However, receiving HPV vaccine when pregnant is not a reason to consider terminating the pregnancy. Women who are breast feeding may get the vaccine.
Any woman who learns she was pregnant when she got this HPV vaccine is encouraged to contact the manufacturer’s HPV in pregnancy registry at 888-452-9622. This will help us learn how pregnant women respond to the vaccine.
This HPV vaccine has been in use around the world for several years and has been very safe.
However, any medicine could possibly cause a serious problem, such as a severe allergic reaction. The risk of any vaccine causing a serious injury, or death, is extremely small.
Life-threatening allergic reactions from vaccines are very rare. If they do occur, it would be within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
Several mild to moderate problems are known to occur with this HPV vaccine. These do not last long and go away on their own.
Like all vaccines, HPV vaccines will continue to be monitored for unusual or severe problems.
Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.
Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website.
Vaccine Information Statement (Interim)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Cervarix (5/3/2011)
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