Your health care provider or pharmacist can give you a prescription to get the HPV vaccine, called Gardasil9, it is given in 3 doses over a 6-month period of time, it is good for people from the age of 9 years and up. There is no upper age limit to get the HPV vaccine. This vaccine is a cancer prevention tool; it is the only way to protect people from getting this virus that can lead to genital warts and HPV-related cancers. The benefits of you personally being vaccinated is protection from getting different strains of the virus you have not already come into contact with from a new partner. Another benefit of getting the HPV vaccine is that if you already have the virus, research is starting to show that it will slow down and limit the damage of this virus on your body. It is important to know this vaccine will not take away this virus. If both partners are vaccinated, there is no reason why you can’t have healthy sexual relationships
There are currently two vaccines which protect against HPV infection. These are called Gardasil and Cervarix. Cervarix is only for women and people with a cervix.
- Gardasil9 is designed to protect against nine different types of HPV.
- HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 that cause cervical cancer
- HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 that cause vulvar and vaginal cancer
- HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 that cause anal cancer
- HPV types 6 and 11 that cause genital warts
- HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 that cause abnormal and precancerous anal lesions
- HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 that cause oropharyngeal and other head and neck cancers
- Cervarix is designed to protect against HPV types 16 and 18. If you have a cervix, it also helps protect you between the ages of 10 and 25 against precancerous conditions and cancers of the cervix.
Both vaccines are licensed in Canada.
The HPV vaccine works best if given before a person comes into contact with HPV, as the virus is transmitted through skin-to-skin sexual contact below the waistline even without penetration with fingers, mouths or other body parts. Condoms do not fully protect people from giving/getting this virus because the condom only covers the length of the penis and there are still other parts below the waist that will have direct skin-to-skin contact. To be clear, a person comes into contact with this virus when using their mouth, hands, or fingers below the waistline of a partner. As previously mentioned, this also includes putting a penis or an object in a vagina or anus, and rubbing against each other with skin-to-skin contact below the waistline even without any penetration.
In practical terms, the easiest and most effective way to reach everybody is for everyone to be vaccinated before they are sexually active. In Canada, the vaccination programs for HPV are implemented for everyone in schools between grades 5 and 8 depending on the province. Click here to know your province’s or territory’s school-based free HPV vaccination program.
Vaccines are given by injection into the muscle, usually the upper arm. Two separate doses are needed. The second dose should be given anytime between six to 12 months after the first, but it can be given up to 24 months after.
There is some evidence that the HPV vaccines provide cross protection for other types of HPV which may mean that it has a higher protection level than first thought. Research indicates that the HPV vaccine could prevent two-thirds of cervical cancers in women aged below 30 by 2025 but only if uptake of the HPV vaccination is at 80% .
The Canadian national HPV immunization program was introduced into schools in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, depending on the province. This program is offered to everyone, and first vaccination occurs between grades 4 and 8 depending on where you live (An Advisory Committee Statement (ACS) National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI)† Update on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines)). Click here to know your province’s or territory’s school-based free HPV vaccination program.
The vaccines are over 98% effective in preventing cervical abnormalities associated with HPV 16 and 18 in women anyone with a cervix who has all three doses and in those who do not yet have HPV .
If you are not eligible for the free vaccine you can pay for it privately, or it may be covered by your private insurance provider.
The HPV vaccination will help reduce the number of cases of HPV related cancers and the number of individuals who have to be treated for genital warts or HPV-related cancers. Whether vaccinated or not, the best protection against cervical cancer is to continue going for regular cervical screening and HPV tests for women and people with a cervix over the age of 30 years. The combination of HPV vaccination and cervical screening can help reduce cervical cancer incidence in Canada.
Free HPV immunization programs by province/territory :
click here to see the Free HPV immunization programs in your province/territory
Side Effects Caused by Vaccination
Thousands of girls and women of different ages took part in the clinical trials for the HPV vaccines :
Very common side effects (side effects which may occur in more than one per 10 doses of vaccine) reported by girls who have received the vaccine are:
- Injection site problems such as redness, bruising, itching, swelling, pain or cellulitis
Common (side effects which may occur in less than one per 10 but more than one per 100 doses of vaccine):
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Painful arms, hands, legs or feet
Rare (side effects which may occur in less than one per 100 but more than one per 1,000 doses of vaccine):
- More than one in 10,000 people who have the Gardasil HPV vaccine experience:
- An itchy red rash (urticaria)
- Fewer than 1 in 10,000 people who have the Gardasil HPV vaccine experience:
- Restriction of the airways and difficult breathing (bronchospasm)
For information on the side effects of the HPV Vaccine, please see these websites:
HPV quadrivalent vaccine (HPV4): Gardasil® adverse events
The HPV vaccine helps protect your child from certain HPV-related cancers