HPV, or human papillomavirus, is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. HPV infections are usually asymptomatic and therefore difficult to catch. Regular examinations and controls are the most effective way after vaccination for early diagnosis and treatment.
The diagnosis of HPV is made through standard genital examination and pap smear tests. There are cancer-causing (high-risk) and wart-forming (low-risk) types of HPV. Once the virus is taken, it will most likely be cleared from the body thanks to our immune system. However, sometimes this cleaning cannot take place and it continues to stay in our body and cause disease for years. Although there is no drug treatment for HPV infection, it is still possible to prevent this infection. HPV vaccines have been used to prevent HPV infection for about 15 years.
From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yeni Yüzyıl University, Prof. Dr. Behiye Pınar Göksedef answered the questions about the HPV vaccine.
Who should get the HPV vaccine?
HPV vaccination is recommended for 11-12 year old girls and boys, but vaccination can be done from 9 years old. Even if vaccination is done at these ages, it will show protection against cancers associated with HPV infection in the future. Young adults up to the age of 26 can be vaccinated if they have not started, or have started and completed, vaccination within the recommended age range.
When and how many doses of HPV Vaccine should be given?
The first dose should be at the age of 11-12 years. If vaccination is started under the age of 15, 2 doses are sufficient. These doses should be given at intervals of 5 months. However, in young adults over 15 years of age and those with weakened immune systems, 3 doses should be administered to provide the necessary protection.
Can adults get the HPV vaccine?
People over the age of 26 will likely benefit little from the vaccine because they have had an HPV infection. However, vaccination can be considered in people aged 27-45 who are likely to have a new HPV infection. HPV testing is not required prior to vaccination in persons who have had sexual intercourse or have had a previous HPV infection.
Who should not receive the HPV vaccine?
Vaccination is not recommended for pregnant women, in case of a previous life-threatening allergic reaction to any substance in the vaccine, in the presence of fungal allergy. In the presence of severe fever, vaccination is postponed.
What is the protective rate of the HPV vaccine?
HPV vaccine shows over 90% protection against HPV-related cancers. The incidence of genital warts in those who are vaccinated is considerably reduced. In long-term follow-ups, it has been shown that the protection of the vaccine does not decrease over time, and a reminder dose is not needed. Cervical cancer screening should still be continued in vaccinated individuals.
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?
Vaccines, like all medicines, have side effects. However, many HPV vaccines have not had any side effects. Side effects are usually mild and the most common side effect is pain at the injection site. Especially young adults may feel faint after vaccination, so they should be seated or lie down for 15 minutes after vaccination.
How can you get the HPV vaccine?
HPV vaccine is not yet included in the ministry’s vaccination calendar. For this reason, parents who want their children to be vaccinated, or individuals who want to be vaccinated themselves, have to meet the vaccine at their own expense. It is possible to obtain it from the pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription after consulting and informing your doctor about the vaccine.