Annual checkups with a gynecologist allow for preventive treatment and early detection of health problems. However, there are times when these routine visits are not enough. Certain issues and life changes require a visit to the gynecologist between regular checkups.While waiting until one’s next annual checkup may be okay, scheduling a visit between these appointments…
Can You Get the HPV Vaccine at Any Age?
The HPV vaccine is fast becoming an integral part of preventative care. This article goes over basic information about the HPV vaccine. It goes on to detail the different age groups that should get the vaccine.
HPV, cervical cancer, and the need for an HPV vaccine
What is HPV, and why does it warrant a vaccine? HPV is short for human papillomavirus, a class of more than 100 viruses. Some of the viruses in this class cause few or no symptoms, and the body gets rid of them without a fuss. Other types of HPV cause genital warts, which may take some time to resolve.
Then there are the truly dangerous HPV strains. HPV types 16 and 18 can cause cervical cancer, an illness that can be lethal. These strains are the main targets of the vaccine, along with the ones that cause genital warts. So, just how does a vaccine protect from the virus?
Like all inoculations, the HPV vaccine triggers an immune response from the body. The response causes the body’s defense to familiarize itself with dangerous types of HPV. The body stores information on how to fight the virus, effectively arming the body.
For maximum protection, the vaccine should be administered before a patient becomes sexually active. This is not to rule out sexually active people. Here are the different age groups eligible for the vaccine.
Routine HPV vaccine between ages nine to thirteen
Most routine vaccinations start at a few months of age, often concluding as a toddler gets to age two. The HPV vaccine is a newer addition to the regimen. In rare cases, children as young as nine can receive the vaccine. However, doctors often administer the vaccine between ages 11 and 13. The idea is to administer the vaccine as a preventative measure before the patient becomes sexually active. At this age bracket, the inoculation takes two doses to complete, with the second dose coming six months after the first.
Ages 15 to 25
People in this age bracket that are yet to get the vaccine should get it. The inoculation will take two or three doses, depending on the age at which the patient receives their first dose. Teens who get the first two doses within five months of each other will need a third dose.
Ages 27 to 45
There is a high chance that a sexually active person over the age of 26 has already been exposed to HPV. As such, the benefit of a preventative measure like a vaccine will diminish with age. However, some people are at a higher risk of exposure to HPV. In such scenarios, a physician may recommend that their patient get the vaccine.
Here, it is worth noting that the risk of HPV infection increases with each new sexual partner. Conversely, people in mutually monogamous relationships are at a lower risk of contracting the virus. Doctors take their patient’s situations into account before recommending the vaccine.
People who should not get the vaccine
Like with most medications and therapies, the HPV vaccine does have contraindications. As such, it is not for everyone. A physician will recommend that the following groups avoid the vaccine:
- People with yeast allergies may react badly to some variants of the HPV vaccine
- Acutely sick people should wait to get the vaccine after they recover
- Pregnant women should wait until they deliver to receive the vaccine
Pregnant women might get vaccinated before they realize they are pregnant. This is nothing to worry about, as the chances of the inoculation causing harm are close to zero. Still, they should wait until they have their baby to receive the remaining doses.
Frequently asked questions about the HPV vaccine
Thinking about getting the HPV vaccine? Here are answers to some of the inquiries you might have:
1. What is HPV?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It is a virus that can cause certain types of cancer, including cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal (throat) cancer. HPV is the most widespread sexually transferred infection in the United States.
2. Does the HPV vaccine work?
Yes. The HPV vaccine is very effective at preventing infection with the types of HPV that can cause cancer. The vaccine is estimated to be about 90% effective in protecting against these types of HPV.
3. Is the HPV vaccine safe?
Yes. The HPV vaccine is safe for most people. Some people might have mild side effects from the vaccine, such as soreness or redness at the injection site, but these are typically short-lived.
4. Who should get the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is suggested for girls and boys starting at age 11 or 12. It can be done as soon as age 9. People who did not get the HPV vaccine when they were younger can still get it later on in life.
5. How is the HPV vaccine administered?
The HPV vaccine is provided as an injection in the upper arm. It is usually given in two doses six to twelve months apart.
6. Is there something else I need to know about the HPV vaccine?
Yes. It is important to remember that the HPV vaccine does not protect against all strains of HPV. There are over 150 types of HPV, and the vaccine only protects against some of them. Also, the HPV vaccine does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The best way to reduce your risk of getting an STI is to use condoms every time you have sex.
High-quality preventative care goes a long way to ensure a good life
That is a great reason to reach out to us and talk to a member of our team. Take advantage of the collective experience of our team. You will be happy to find out how fully we cover your preventive and primary healthcare needs. The HPV vaccine is just one of many services that we deliver with care.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: HPV Vaccine in Fresno, CA.
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