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Who Should Get Vaccinated for HPV?

From the flu to tetanus to whooping cough, there are a lot of diseases to get vaccinated for. Immunizations are an important part of keeping you healthy, and it’s important to get the recommended doses at the recommended times. 

One vaccine in particular, the HPV vaccine, can protect you from certain types of cancer and uncomfortable symptoms, such as genital warts. In this article, the team at Downtown Medical Group in San Francisco explains the importance of the HPV vaccine and who needs it.

What is HPV? 

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. Usually transmitted sexually or through skin-to-skin contact, HPV can cause genital warts, and some kinds of cancer. Notably, HPV can lead to cervical cancer in females, penile cancers in males, other reproductive organs in both males and females, anal cancers, and some head and neck cancers. There are more than 100 types of HPV, though not all of them cause health problems. 

Does everyone need an HPV vaccination?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of an HPV vaccine for all boys and girls at ages 11 or 12, although children can be vaccinated as early as age 9. You can still get the vaccine as an adult. In fact, the CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for everyone through age 26, but you may need three shots instead of two. Three doses are also recommended for people with autoimmune disorders.

The CDC doesn’t recommend the HPV vaccine for everyone older than age 26, but you may still get vaccinated if you decide the benefits outweigh the risks up to the age of 45 years old. For example, people in their late 20s who are very sexually active may benefit from the HPV vaccine. 

Some people shouldn’t get the HPV vaccine. These groups include: 

Aside from the groups above, everyone should be able to safely receive the HPV vaccine to protect themselves against the virus. If you’re not sure if you fall into one of those groups, ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine and what’s right for you. 

What are the risk factors for HPV?

If you’re sexually active, you’re more likely to get HPV. And, the more sexual partners you have — and the more partners your current partner has or had — the more your risk for HPV goes up. 

Your risk of contracting HPV also increases if you’re immunocompromised in any way, because your body is less likely to fight off the virus. 

What is the HPV-vaccination timeline?

The ideal timeline is to get the first dose at age 11 or 12, and then get the second dose 6-12 months later. 

If you didn’t receive the HPV vaccine before you turned age 15, you may need three doses over the course of six months, after the initial dose, you will receive one in 1-2 months and then 6 months. 

To learn more about getting an HPV vaccine, book an appointment online or over the phone with Downtown Medical Group. You can also schedule a telehealth visit and talk with a doctor about HPV or the vaccine from the convenience of your home.

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