HPV Vaccine: Types, Who needs it and How it works

An Overview

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that causes warts on different parts of the body. Many people who are living with the human Papilloma Virus do not manifest any symptoms; however, they can infect others via sexual contact.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine can help protect against a wide range of cancers, including:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Cancer of the mouth and throat
  • Cancer of the anal and genital areas

The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine also helps to protect against genital warts.

It is a routine in England for girls and boys aged 12 to 13 (In school year 8) to receive their first HPV vaccination, followed by the second dose at 6 to 12 months afterwards. In order to be protected from HPV,  it is necessary to have the two vaccination doses.

Fortunately, persons who did not get vaccinated in school year 8 can still have the HPV vaccine until their 25th birthday.

What is HPV?

HPV refers to a very common group of viruses. There are many types of Human Papilloma Virus.

Some types of HPV are called “high risk” because they are known to contribute to the development of certain cancers such as the cancer of the cervix, anal cancer, cancers of the head and neck, and anal cancer. Other types of HPV can cause conditions like genital warts and verrucas.

About 99.7% of cervical cancer cases are caused by the high-risk type of HPV. A lower percentage of the cancers of the anal and genital area, the head and neck, are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus infection.

Certain risk factors, such as alcohol and smoking, contribute to the development of the rest of these cancers. Most often, HPV infections remain asymptomatic and most infected people will not know they are infected with the virus.

The Different Types Of Hpv

Over 100 different types of the Human Papilloma Virus have been identified, and about 40 types of HPV affect the genital area. The HPV infection is very common and can be transmitted through any sexual contact with an infected person. However, some people will get infected by the HPV but will get cured without treatment as their bodies will get rid of it naturally. This does not apply to those infected with a high-risk type of HPV as their bodies won’t be able to get rid of the viruses. This will consequently cause abnormal tissue growth that would lead to cancer if left untreated.

High-risk types of the Human Papilloma Virus are known to cause a wide range of cancer, including:

  • Cancer of the cervix (cervical cancer)
  • Cancer of the vagina
  • Cancer of the vulva
  • Cancer of the anus
  • Cancer of the penis
  • Cancers of the head & neck

Low-risk types of HPV are liable to cause the following:

  • Genital Warts: these warts are small growth on or around the genital and anal area.  Genital warts are one a very common viral STI in the UK.
  • Laryngeal Papillomas: these are warts that grow on the vocal cords.
  • Verrucas & Skin Warts: they do not grow in the genital area.

The Mode Of Action Of The Hpv Vaccine

Gardasil is the major brand of the HPV vaccine that is currently used.  

Gardasil provides protection against Four (4) types of HPV: 6, 11, 16 & 18. HPV types 16 and 18 are the primary cause of over 70% of cervical cancers in the UK. These four types of HPV are also responsible for some anal and genital cancers, as well as some cancers of the head & neck. HPV types 6 and 11 are responsible for the development of about 90% of genital warts.

Gardasil is a trusted vaccine that provides protection for girls against both cervical cancer & genital warts. It should be noted that HPV vaccination provides no protection against other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia. Also, it cannot prevent pregnancy.

Who is Eligible for the Hpv Vaccine?

12 and 13-year-old girls and boys in school year 8 will be vaccinated with the first dose of the HPV vaccine. This will be done routinely in the UK starting from September 2019.

The second dose of the HPV vaccine will then be given 6 to 12 months after the first dose. 

If you miss either of your HPV vaccine doses, you should speak to your school immunisation team to fix an appointment to get the vaccine as soon as possible. It is essential for you to complete both doses because it will provide full protection.

Those who missed the vaccination during the school year 8 are still eligible to get vaccinated until they are 25. However, three doses are required for those who started the HPV vaccination after age 15.

Why is the HPV vaccine Given at Young age?

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) usually resides on the fingers,  genitals, mouth and hands.  The viral infection can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.  This points out the high probability that human Papillomavirus can be transmitted during any form of sexual activity such as touching.

The HPV vaccine is therefore administered to young girls and boys before they become sexually active. If vaccinated, they will be protected from the HPV infection throughout their teenage years and beyond. If unvaccinated, the virus can dwell in the human body for several years and can afterwards start to cause severe damages for no apparent reason.

HPV Vaccine For Homosexual Men

Homosexuals have not benefited from the longstanding girls’ vaccination  programme. However, from April 2018, homosexuals who are 45 years old or younger, are now eligible to get vaccinated.

HPV Vaccination For Transgender People

Just like the homosexuals, transgender people are eligible for the HPV vaccination to prevent them from getting infected.

What is The Mode of Administration of the HPV Vaccine?

Two doses of the HPV vaccine are usually injected into the upper arm. The doses are spaced 6 to 12 months apart. Those who missed their HPV vaccination scheduled for school Year 8 are eligible to get vaccinated before age 25. However,  they will be given three doses as they will not be fully protected by the two doses.

Homosexuals or Men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender people who are eligible for the HPV vaccine, will need 3 vaccination doses.

If 3 doses of the HPV vaccine are required;

  • The 2nd dose of the vaccine should be administered at least 1 month after the first dose.
  • The third dose should be administered within 12 months after the second dose

How Long Will the Hpv Vaccine Protect?

Studies have made it known that the HPV vaccine can protect against the HPV infection for a minimum of 10 years. Some experts have confirmed that its protection lasts longer than ten years.

It is, however, recommended to do cervical screening regularly because the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV.

Where to Get Vaccinated

At Medical Express Clinic, we provide private HPV vaccination to male & females who are 9 years and above. You can visit our clinic or book an appointment online.