Revised June 2019
There are more than 100 genotypes of human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus infection can spread by intimate skin to skin contact. Most infections do not show symptoms and may clear on their own. Certain high-risk HPV strains cause cervical cancer and are associated with cancers of the penis, anus, vulva, vagina, mouth and throat. Certain low-risk strains can cause warts.
The virus can also be passed from an infected mother to baby before and during birth. Newborns with HPV can develop respiratory papillomatosis.
HPV vaccination can protect against nine types of HPV infection which may lead to cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal cancers and genital warts. Vaccination works best when it is given prior to infection with HPV.
HPV vaccines will not protect against existing HPV infections or HPV genotypes not included in the vaccine. Women should continue with regular Pap tests, even after receiving HPV vaccine.
The vaccine can prevent high-risk precancerous cervical lesions and anal/genital cancers caused by the strains that are present in the vaccine. HPV9 vaccine also can prevent 90 per cent of genital warts.
Healthy individuals, age nine to 14 years, only need two-doses. Youth, ages 15 years and older when they get their first dose, will need a three-dose schedule. A three-dose schedule is also needed for persons with a health condition or who are taking a medication that increases the risk of infection.
Since 2007, 99 countries and territories have human papillomavirus vaccination programs. A Canadian researcher published a study in the Lancet, showing strong evidence that human papillomavirus vaccination prevents infections, genital and anal warts, and precancerous lesion at a population level. The impacts were seen in both females and males. This is further evidence that human papillomavirus vaccination will have a significant impact on preventing cancer and warts.
Gardasil® 9 (HPV9)
Ontario students are eligible for the free vaccine series in Grade 7 and 8 through their local public health unit. Grade 9 boys and high school girls, who have not started or complete their vaccine series are also eligible. Men who have sex with men (self-identify as gay, bisexual and trans), under the age of 27 are also eligible for the free vaccine.
The cost for three-doses of HPV vaccine can range between $300 and $550, depending on the choice of vaccine. If you are not eligible for the free vaccine, check with your private health coverage.
Anyone who is allergic to vaccine ingredients such as yeast or alum should not receive the vaccine. The vaccine is not recommended in pregnancy. As a precaution, if you have a fever, delay getting the vaccine until you are feeling better.
The vaccine is safe, effective and generally well tolerated. Reactions are usually mild. Common side effects include pain, swelling and redness where the vaccine was given, headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, vomiting or feeling faint shortly after receiving the vaccine.
In rare cases, serious allergic reactions such as trouble breathing, rash, swelling in the throat and face may occur. The allergic reactions can be treated and are usually temporary. Please stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after vaccination so staff can monitor for any reactions. There are no long-term side-effects or chronic medical conditions associated with this vaccine.
In USA, 29 million doses of HPV vaccine was given between December 2014 and 2017. Passive surveillance system (VAERS) received 7,244 reports. Most common are dizziness, fainting, headache and general reactions to the injection site. No new safety signals or unexpected patterns were observed.
Talk to your health care provider or call our Immunization Information Centre at 416-392-1250.