HPV Vaccine Myths & Facts

Have some questions about the HPV vaccine? This list of myths and facts will help clear up any misconceptions you might have about the HPV shot.

Myth: There Can Be Serious HPV Vaccine Side Effects.

Fact: HPV vaccine safety studies have found no serious side effects related to this vaccination.

The most common side effects experienced after getting the HPV vaccine are very minor, including brief soreness or redness at the injection site. As of March 2014, more than 60 million doses of the HPV had been distributed in the U.S. with no serious HPV vaccine dangers detected. There have been zero HPV vaccine deaths.

The only serious HPV vaccine risk is an allergic reaction. The HPV vaccine isn’t recommended for anyone who has a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine, so be sure to tell your doctor about any serious allergies you have (including yeast allergies) before getting vaccinated.

Myth: Boys Don’t Need the HPV Vaccine.

Fact: The CDC recommends the HPV shot for boys and men up to age 26.

Ideally, boys will receive the vaccine at age 11 or 12. However, the CDC also recommends that older boys and men through age 21 receive the vaccination if they did not get the HPV shot when they were younger. In addition, the CDC recommends the shot through age 26 for men who have sex with other men as well as men with HIV or other conditions causing a weakened immune system.

Myth: The HPV Vaccine Isn’t Recommended for Adults.

Fact: The vaccine is approved for adults through age 45.

CDC recommendations stipulate that women through age 26 and men through age 21 should be vaccinated for HPV. In October 2018, the FDA approved the use of Gardasil 9 for adults through age 45.

Studies have shown very promising results regarding the effectiveness and safety of the Gardasil HPV vaccine in older adults. However, the HPV vaccine effectiveness is highest when it is fully administered before someone becomes sexually active. The HPV vaccine does not protect against any strains of the virus which you’ve already been exposed to.

Myth: You Don’t Need Pap Tests If You Got the HPV Vaccine.

Fact: You still need regular cervical cancer screenings even if you’re vaccinated for HPV.

The HPV vaccine protects against most of the HPV types that cause cervical cancer. However, it doesn’t protect against all of the high-risk HPV strains. In addition, it doesn’t protect against any types of HPV to which you were already exposed before getting vaccinated. Continue getting Pap tests as recommended by your doctor even if you got the HPV vaccine.

Sources
  1. Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017.
  2. HPV Vaccine Information For Young Women: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.
  3. HPV (Human Papillomavirus) VIS: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
  4. HPV and Men – Fact Sheet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.
  5. FDA approves expanded use of Gardasil 9 to include individuals 27 through 45 years old: U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2018.
  6. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2017.