Q: Who should get HPV vaccine?
A: Teen boys and girls who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should get it now. Two vaccines are available: Gardasil and Gardasil 9. Gardasil is indicated for young women ages 11 through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21. GARDASIL® 9 (Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant) helps protect girls and young women ages 9 to 26 against cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers and genital warts caused by 9 types of HPV. GARDASIL 9 helps protect boys ages 9 to 15 against anal cancer and genital warts caused by those same HPV types. The vaccine is also recommended for:
- gay and bisexual young men (or any young man who has sex with men) through age 26 and
- young men with weakened immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not get HPV vaccine when they were younger.
Q: Why is the vaccine recommended at such a young age?
A: For HPV vaccines to be effective, they should be given prior to exposure to HPV. There is no reason to wait until a teen is having sex to offer HPV vaccination to them. Preteens should receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine series long before they begin any type of sexual activity and are exposed to HPV. Also HPV vaccine produces a higher immune response in preteens than it does in older teens and young women.
Q: Is the vaccine still effective if you have had sexual intercourse?
A: Even if someone has already had sex, they should still get HPV vaccine. Even though HPV infection usually happens soon after someone has sex for the first time, a person might not be exposed to any or all of the HPV types that are in the vaccine. Males and females in the age groups recommended for vaccination are likely to get at least some protection from the vaccine.
Q: How well does HPV vaccine work?
A: The HPV vaccine works extremely well. Clinical trials showed the vaccines provided close to 100% protection against pre-cancers and, ( Gardasil® and Gardasil®, 9) genital warts. Since the vaccine was first recommended in 2006, there has been a 56% reduction in vaccine type HPV infections among teen girls in the U.S., even with very low HPV vaccination rates. Research has also shown that fewer teens are getting genital warts.
The HPV vaccine is available at the Health Center by appointment. It is given in a series of 3 shots administered over a 6 month period. Students who are uninsured or underinsured contact the Tarrant County Public Health Department Clinic at 817.370.4530.
To get the HPV vaccine at the Health Center, call 817.257.7940 to schedule an appointment. The HPV vaccine is given in a series of three doses.