What is the Human Papillomavirus (“HPV”) Vaccine?
Presently there are two types of human papillomavirus (“HPV”) vaccines licensed for use in the United States. They are:
GARDASIL®, manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc., is a vaccine approved for use in females and males ages 9 to 26. The GARDASIL® vaccine is a quadrivalent vaccine (HPV4). It is called a quadrivalent vaccine because it protects against four HPV types: 6, 11, 16, and 18. The GARDASIL® vaccine can be administered in a 2-dose or 3-dose series, depending on the age of the recipient.
GARDASIL®9, manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc., is a vaccine approved for use in females and males ages 9 to 26. The GARDASIL®9 vaccine is a 9-valent vaccine (HPV-9). It is called a 9-valent vaccine because it protects against nine HPV types: 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58. The GARDASIL® vaccine can be administered in a 2-dose or 3-dose series, depending on the age of the recipient.
The quadrivalent Gardasil vaccine will be phased out and replaced with the 9-valent Gardasil vaccine. Gardasil-9 will soon be the only HPV vaccine available in the United States. The Cervarix vaccine is no longer administered in the United States.
Human papillomaviruses comprise a group of more than 150 related viruses. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Certain types of HPV are associated with cancer, including cervical cancer. Up to 70% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV types 16 and 18. Approximately 6 million people are infected with HPV each year in the United States. Most HPV infections do not cause any symptoms and spontaneously resolve over the course of a few years.
It is believed the HPV vaccine creates an antibody response that is capable of protecting a person against infection. The HPV vaccine uses virus-like particles (VLP) to produce an immune response. They are not infectious, because they lack DNA. However, these VLPs can attach to cells and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that can prevent the complete papillomavirus, in future encounters, from infecting cells. Although HPV vaccines can help prevent future HPV infection, they do not help eliminate existing HPV infections.
Who should receive the HPV vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all males and females receive HPV vaccination between the ages of 9 and 26, often beginning at age 11 or 12. This schedule is designed to prevent potential exposure to HPV through sexual contact.
The HPV vaccine is not recommended for any person who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any component of HPV vaccine, or to a previous dose of HPV vaccine. Any person who has any severe allergies, including an allergy to yeast, should consult their physician prior to receiving the HPV vaccination. The HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women at this time. In addition, anyone with an existing HPV infection should not receive the HPV vaccine.
How is the HPV vaccine administered?
Both HPV vaccines should be given intramuscularly in a 2-dose or 3-dose series, depending on the age of the recipient.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Related Links:
Immunization Action Coalition HPV Page.
National Cancer Institute Human Papillomavirus (HPV) page
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Packet Inserts:
CERVARIX® Human Papillomavirus Bivalent (Types 16 and 18) Vaccine Packet Insert
GARDASIL® Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine Packet Insert