Your Questions About the HPV Vaccine
If I already have HPV, will this vaccine treat it?
No. If you have a current HPV, the vaccine won't get rid of the infection. However, if you have one type of HPV, the vaccine may prevent you from getting another type of the virus. There's really no way to treat the virus once you have it, although there are treatments for diseases caused by HPV such as genital warts and genital cancers. This is why you should have regular pelvic exams and Pap tests (if you're female) to screen for cervical cancer.
Does the HPV vaccine protect me for life?
The vaccine appears to offer long-term protection from HPV. However, even women who have received the vaccine should see their gynecologist regularly for a Pap test to check for cervical cancer, because the vaccine doesn’t protect against all HPV types that can cause cervical cancer.
Will my insurance cover the cost of the HPV vaccine?
Most insurance plans cover routine vaccines, which means that if you're in the recommended age group, your insurance should pay for the vaccine. Check with your insurance company just to be sure. If your family doesn't have health insurance or you're on Medicaid, you should be able to get the HPV vaccine for free through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
Is this vaccination safe?
Vaccines have to be rigorously tested before they can be widely distributed. Both HPV vaccines were tested on thousands of people and shown to be safe before they were released to the public. These vaccines have been used for years now, and experts say the chance of them causing a serious reaction is very slim. The HPV vaccine does not contain mercury or the preservative thimerosal.
Is there any reason why I shouldn't get this vaccine?
Some people shouldn’t get the vaccine. You definitely don't want to get the HPV vaccine if you've had a serious allergic reaction to it or to any of its components. Let your doctor know if you have any severe allergies to anything, including baker's yeast or latex. Also, talk to your doctor if you have an immune system problem or blood disorder.
If you're pregnant, you'll want to wait to get the HPV vaccine until after your baby is born. In studies, HPV vaccines have not been found to cause any problems in babies whose mothers got the vaccine while pregnant, but pregnant women should not get HPV vaccine, as safety studies are still ongoing.