What is HPV?
HPV or the Human Papillomavirus is from the papillomavirus family, of which more than 40 types are transmitted through sexual contact. The infection is found in both the anus and genital areas of both males and females. Occasionally, it can spread from mother to baby during pregnancy as well. Common symptoms of HPV are genital warts, and the development of cervical cancer in women, although there are some strains of the virus that are asymptomatic. Most common HPV infections can be treated through HPV vaccinations.
What are HPV vaccines?
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine that we administer at Thomson Specialist Skin Centre is an inactivated (not live) vaccine that protects against 9 major types of HPV, particularly those that pose the greatest risk of cervical cancer. As such, HPV vaccines are recommended especially for young girls and women from as young as 9 years old up to the age of 26 years. It is important for girls to get HPV vaccine before their first sexual contact, because they would not have been exposed to HPV yet – hence the recommendation for the vaccine to be administered to young girls yet to have reached puberty.
Administered early, the vaccine can greatly reduce disease caused by the 9 types of HPV targeted by the vaccine. However, as HPV is sexually transmitted and there are multiple strains, it is also recommended that women who are sexually active routinely go for cervical cancer screening with the Pap smear test (once every 3 years).
As HPV vaccines also reduce the risk of genital warts, and several other types of cancer (such as cancer of the penis, the anus and the vagina), the HPV9 vaccine is recommended for males who are sexually active as well as boys who have not reached puberty.
How is the HPV vaccine administered at Thomson Specialist Skin Centre?
HPV vaccination is administered as a series of injections over several months. After the first dosage is given, the second is administered one to two months later, with the final shot given six months after the first dose.
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?
HPV vaccine does not appear to cause any severe adverse effects. However, the patient may experience one or more mild side effects such as temporary pain and mild swelling at the injection site, mild or moderate fever and some itching on the injection site.
Is the HPV vaccine safe for everyone?
The HPV vaccine is generally safe to be administered to most people. They may even be administered simultaneously with other vaccines without adverse side effects. However, if you have any severe allergies, especially with yeast the HPV vaccine is not recommended. Although the vaccine appears to be safe for both a mother and her unborn foetus, there is insufficient data to conclusively prove its safety. Hence, pregnant women should not get the HPV vaccine.
Additionally, those who are currently suffering from moderate or severe illness should wait until they are fully recovered before getting vaccinated.
It is safest for any patient considering getting vaccinated or any parent considering getting their child vaccinated to consult with their doctors and discuss their medical histories before getting the HPV vaccine. Should you have any queries about the HPV vaccine, please contact Thomson Specialist Skin Centre.