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HPV Vaccine

 
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus that can cause a variety of cancers. Learn about HPV and the HPV vaccine.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus, with more than 100 strains worldwide. It can cause cancer in the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, mouth and throat, as well as genital warts.

The HPV vaccine helps protect against these cancers and genital warts caused by nine types of the virus (6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58).

Spreading HPV

HPV spreads through intimate skin-to-skin contact.

Seventy-five per cent of Canadians will get an HPV infection at some time in their lives. Most people will not know that they are infected or that they are passing the virus on to someone else.

Symptoms

Most people infected with HPV do not develop symptoms. Cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers might not have signs or symptoms until they are advanced and hard to treat. That is why it is important for people to get regular health exams.

Getting the vaccine

Students should get the HPV vaccine because it is:

  • Effective: It can prevent almost 100 per cent of some cervical cancers. The vaccine can prevent 90 per cent of genital warts.
  • Age appropriate: Teenagers are more likely to try activities that increase the risk of infection. This is why it is important that youth get the vaccine before this stage.

Who should not get this vaccine

Students should see their doctor for possible vaccination if they have:

  • A history of a bad reaction after getting a vaccine
  • An allergy to yeast protein

Deciding not to vaccinate

The HPV vaccine is not required by law to attend school. However, your student could be at risk of getting warts or cancer caused by HPV if you decide not to vaccinate.

Risk of HPV vs. risk of vaccine

Risk of HPV Risk of vaccine
  • 75 per cent of Canadians will become infected with HPV at some point in their lives.
  • Most infected people have no symptoms but can infect others.
  • More than 14,600 Ontarians have HPV-related genital warts every year.
  • Almost 1,100 Ontarians are diagnosed with HPV-related cancer each year.
  • HPV contributes to more than 250 deathsin Ontario every year.
  • Up to 90 per cent of people will have a sore arm.
  • Up to 60 per cent of people will have a headache or feel tired .
  • Serious adverse events are very rare.

Preparing your child for vaccination

Before vaccinating your child:

  • Talk to your student about the vaccine.
  • Complete and return the consent form.
  • Review helpful ways to deal with fear or anxiety (e.g., count to ten, look away from needle, focus on breathing).

On clinic day, make sure that your child:

  • Has something to eat
  • Wears a short sleeve shirt

Doses

The vaccine is usually given in 2 injections, at least 6 months apart. Some people (e..g, older students or people with weakened immune systems) might get 3 injections over 6 months. You need all doses to get full protection.

Safety of vaccine

The HPV vaccine is very safe and effective. It was carefully tested and evaluated before receiving approval by Health Canada.

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