7 HPV Vaccine Facts You Need to Know
Despite its safety and effectiveness, the HPV vaccine continues to be mired in controversy. There’s a lot of misinformation about this life-saving vaccine.
In fact, you may have some misconceptions yourself. Learn the truth about the vaccine and pick up some important HPV vaccine facts to be as informed as possible.
- Gardasil, the first HPV vaccine, vaccinates against four strains of the human papilloma virus, or HPV: HPV-6 and HPV-11, which are responsible for more than 90% of all cases of genital warts, and HPV-16 and HPV-18, which are responsible for approximately 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. There are two additional HPV vaccines: Cervarix and Gardasil 9.
- The HPV vaccine is approved by the FDA for girls and women between the ages of nine and 26. For it to work, it must be administered prior to exposure, which is why it should be given at a young age. Men and boys can carry and transmit HPV, so it is increasingly being recommended for them too.
- As long as you haven’t previously been exposed to HPV-16 or HPV-18, the HPV vaccine is 100% effective in preventing cervical pre-cancers and non-invasive cervical pre-cancers. The vaccine consists of three doses that must be administered within a six-month period.
- The list price for a single dose of the HPV vaccine is currently around $120. Since three doses must be administered, it may cost a total of $360 plus doctor’s charges. However, qualifying kids aged 19 and below may receive it for free via the Federal Vaccines for Children program. Many insurance plans cover the vaccine too.
- The potential impact of the HPV vaccine is incredible. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women around the world. Each year, more than 500,000 people develop cervical cancer, and more than 250,000 people die from it. Around 80% of all cases occur in low-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.
- The HPV virus is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. According to the CDC, more than 80 million people–around one in four–are currently infected, and more than 14 million are newly infected each year. Around half of those with HPV are between the ages of 15 and 24.
- As with any vaccine that’s approved by the FDA, the HPV vaccine was subjected to years of intensive clinical studies to ensure its safety. More than 30,000 women participated in clinical trials for Cervarix; more than 29,000 men and women participated in clinical trials for Gardasil; and more than 15,000 men and women participated in clinical trials for Gardasil-9. Throughout all of those trials, no serious safety concerns were identified. The FDA and CDC continue to monitor the vaccine to ensure its safety.
As these HPV vaccine facts demonstrate, this is a vaccine that is already saving countless lives every year. With any luck, the lingering stigma about the vaccine will fade, and eventually, HPV, cervical cancer, and other diseases that it causes will largely be things of the past.