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Why should you consider vaccination against HPV?

Why should you consider vaccination against HPV?

Québec Health recommends that girls and young women have the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to protect themselves against cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is most effective when it is given early in life, before any sexual activity.1

Studies show that the immune system is most responsive to the vaccine between the ages of 9 and 11. The vaccination also works better in people who have not been exposed to HPV,1 which is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Canada and worldwide.

The three HPV vaccines (Gardasil, Gardasil9 and Cervarix) now available help protect girls and women 9 through 45 years of age against infection, which affects about 75% of sexually active Canadian men and women, often without causing any symptoms.2

Persistent infection with high-risk HPV strains 16 and 18 has been identified as causing most cancers of the vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, mouth and throat, while HPV types 6 and 11 are responsible for 90% of cases of anogenital warts. The bivalent vaccine (Cervarix, 2vHPV) protects against HPV 16 and 18; the quadrivalent vaccine (Gardasil, 4vHPV) covers HPV types 6 and 11 as well as types 16 and 18.3

The latest addition to protective options available is GARDASIL 9, a 9-strain vaccine that provides the same protection as the quadrivalent vaccine, as well as protection against five additional types of HPV, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, which are responsible for approximately one in five cases of cervical cancer.4

Vaccination for HPV is effective: a 2015 study performed by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that HPV infection in the US is declining since the 4vHPV vaccine was introduced. Researchers compared HPV rates before the vaccine’s approval in 2006 with recent rates. Among girls 14 to 19, rates of infection with the four types of HPV targeted by the 4vHPV vaccine decreased from 11.5% to 4.3%. A smaller decrease was seen in women 20-24 years of age, with rates falling from 18.5% to 12.1%.5

More than 175 million doses of vaccine against HPV have been administered around the world, with no serious or unexpected side effects reported.1

Under the Québec Immunisation Program, routine HPV vaccination is recommended for girls in Grade 4 – this coincides with timing of the routine Hepatitis B vaccination, so both vaccines can be given at one time.1 And two doses are sufficient for girls and boys up to age 12; after that age, three doses are recommended.1

The vaccine is available free of charge to:

  • Girls between 9 and 17 years old
  • People age 26 or under who:
    • Have a weakened immune system
    • Are infected with HIV1

Prevent HPV infection and reduce your risk of cervical and other cancers – vaccination works!

Did you know?

The peak risk for HPV infection is within the first five to ten years of the first sexual experience. A second smaller peak in HPV infection occurs in women ≥45 years of age, perhaps due to reactivation of latent infection, or new infections related to social or behavioral change.

Gardasil, Gardasil9, Merck Canada, Inc.
Cervarix, GlaxoSmithKline Inc.


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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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  1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine - Advice and Prevention - Portail santé mieux-être.
  2. Human papillomavirus HPV. Canadian Cancer Society.
  3. Update On Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) January 2012
  4. CTV News. February 17, 2015. Health Canada approves new, more potent HPV vaccine.
  5. Garland SM et al. Safety and immunogenicity of a 9-valent HPV vaccine in females 12-26 years of age who previously received the quadrivalent HPV vaccine. Vaccine. 2015 Nov 27;33(48):6855-64.