HPV Vaccine Questions and Answers
In June 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer and other diseases in females caused by certain types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine, Gardasil®, protects against four HPV types, which together cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed this vaccine for use in females and males, ages 9 to 26 years old. The HPV vaccine is given through a series of three shots over a six month period. The second and third doses should be given two and six months (respectively) after the first dose.
Effectiveness of the HPV Vaccine
Studies have found the vaccine to be almost 100 percent effective in preventing diseases caused by the four HPV types covered by the vaccine– including pre-cancers of the cervix, penis, anus, vulva and vagina, and genital warts. The vaccine has mainly been studied in young people who had not been exposed to any of the four HPV types in the vaccine.
This vaccine does not treat existing HPV infections, genital warts, pre-cancers or cancers.
Safety of the HPV Vaccine
The FDA has licensed the HPV vaccine as safe and effective. The most common side effect is soreness at the injection site. The CDC, working with the FDA, will continue to monitor the safety of the vaccine after it is in general use.
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Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA News: FDA Licenses New Vaccine for Prevention of Cervical Cancer and Other Diseases in Females Caused by Human Papillomavirus.
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This information was adapted from the CDC HPV Vaccine Questions and Answers webpage.
Updated on: April 20, 2020