The Importance of the HPV Vaccine

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is very common in the United States with one in four people said to carry an HPV infection at any given time.

While most infections will resolve on their own and offer no symptoms, the Human Papillomavirus can lead to several forms of cancer including cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, anal cancer and rectal cancer. These cancers often will not show any symptoms until the cancer has grown more aggressive and has become more difficult to treat. Therefore, it is imperative that you protect yourself and loved ones by obtaining a HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is generally recommended for anyone ages 14 to 26, but the vaccine can still be beneficial to older adults. Side effects are rare and will generally come in the form of a slight fever or headache that can last up to a few days. To learn more about the Human Papillomavirus and the HPV vaccine, refer to the information that has been provided within the sections below.

What is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 150 viruses that can lead to serious health conditions. Common within the United States, about one in four people have HPV at any given time. While most HPV infections go away on their own, some can cause cancer including:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Penile cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the throat)

The Human Papillomavirus spreads through intimate contact, such as vaginal, anal and oral sex. Most people who contract an HPV infection will not experience any symptoms, but some may experience genital warts.

Why is the HPV Vaccine important?

The Human Papillomavirus has become so common within the United States that it is estimated that most men and women will contract at least one type of the virus at some point during their lifetime. Each year, around 17,500 women and 9,300 men will be diagnosed with cancer caused by an HPV infection. These cancers will then generally not result in any symptoms until they have grown very serious, become difficult to treat and could ultimately cause death. Therefore, receiving a vaccination that will protect you against the Human Papillomavirus can be lifesaving as it can prevent you from contracting HPV infections that are cancer causing.

Who needs to get the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is recommended for everyone who is between the ages of 15 and 26. Teens and young adults will need a total of three doses of the HPV vaccine, generally receiving a second dose one to two months after the second dose and a third dose six months after the first. Due to the fact that the current vaccinations are recommended for anyone through the age of 26, it may not be as effective after the age of 26. However, it is still an important vaccination to obtain, even if you are in a monogamous relationship. Talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine if you are an older adult and discuss the amount of protection that it may provide you with from the Human Papillomavirus. However, it is worth knowing that most insurance companies will not cover the HPV vaccine beyond the recommended age.

Who should avoid the HPV vaccine?

Most people will be eligible to receive the HPV vaccine, but some people must avoid it. If you have had an allergic reaction to either a previous dose of the HPV vaccine or to any ingredient within the vaccine itself, it is important to discuss your allergies with your doctor beforehand. Additionally, if you are currently pregnant, you may be required to wait until after your pregnancy to become vaccinated.

The Potential Side Effects of the HPV Vaccine

Side effects of the HPV vaccine are rare, but if you do experience side effects, they will likely be very mild and should go away on their own within a few days. The most common side effects that are experienced after the administration of an HPV vaccine include fever and headaches. Additionally, there may be some pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. While it is very rare that the HPV vaccine can cause a serious reaction, it can happen. As an example, one million doses of the HPV vaccine might be given, but only one or two people may have a severe allergic reaction. Keep in mind that getting vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus is the best way to prevent HPV infections that could lead to various cancers.

Where to Go to Get Vaccinated

There is a variety of ways that you can receive a HPV vaccine including at your doctor’s office, at most local pharmacies, at a health center and through state and local health departments.

If you already see a physician on a regular basis, you can schedule an appointment at your primary care provider’s office in order to obtain a vaccination. Additionally, doing so offers you the opportunity to speak with your physician about any questions or concerns that you may have as well as discuss any serious allergies that you have with your doctor in order to determine whether or not the HPV vaccine is safe for you to receive.

These days, most local pharmacies offer the recommended vaccines for adults. Additionally, it is worth knowing that your local pharmacy may offer you some form of rewards or extra savings if they offer rewards programs to their customers. Not every pharmacy will offer the HPV vaccine, however, so it is important to call ahead of time in order to ensure that they can provide you with a vaccination. It is also worth knowing that prices can vary between pharmacies, so be sure to ask the pharmacy what they charge for the vaccination.

Vaccinations are among the many health care services that are provided by federally funded health centers. This offers those without insurance or with low income the opportunity to receive the HPV vaccine without as much of the cost as vaccinations are often offered with sliding fees that are based upon your income.

State and local health departments are another great way to find places that you can receive an HPV vaccine, including where you may be able to receive free or low cost vaccinations.

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