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Human Papillomavirus Viruses (HPV)

The Vaccine

Two vaccines against HPV are available in Canada: Gardasil® and Cervarix®.

The vaccine used in Québec vaccination program is Gardasil®. This vaccine protects against four HPV that are associated with two diseases:

HPV Associated diseases
16 and 18 70 % of cancers of the uterine cervix
6 and 11 85 % of ano-genital warts (condylomas)

When someone is not already infected by one of the four HPV contained in the vaccine, the level of protection is:

  • 100 % against HPV 16 and 18, which cause cervical cancers;
  • 99 % against HPV 6 and 11, which cause ano-genital warts.

This is why vaccination is recommended before the onset of sexual activity.

However the vaccine can be administered after the period of sexual activity begins because it is unlikely that anyone will be infected by all four HPV at the same time.

The vaccine does not contain HPVs and cannot cause infection. It stimulates the immune system to build defenses (antibodies) against these four HPVs.

Number of doses required

For both teenagers and adults, three doses of vaccine over a six-month period are recommended for proper protection.

Girls who received two doses in Grade 4 do not need a third dose in Secondary 3.

In the vaccination program for girls at school, two doses are given in Elementary 4. Québec experts believe that two doses of the vaccine (one dose in the fall and one dose in the spring) administered to girls in the fourth Grade are sufficient to protect them against HPV. A number of Canadian studies have recently shown that it is not necessary to administer a third dose to girls who received two doses at six month intervals in Grade 4.

Protection lasts for a number of years. Studies are being conducted around the world to evaluate long-term protection. If necessary, a booster dose will be given later to prolong protection.

Possible reactions to the vaccine

The vaccine is safe and gives rise to very few side effects. There are effective methods to reduce these side effects. The health professional who administers the vaccine can inform the person who is being vaccinated of these methods.

Frequency Known reactions to this vaccine What to do
In most cases (more than 50% of people) Pain at the injection site

Apply a cold, damp compress at the injection site.

Use medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

See a doctor if symptoms are severe.

Very often (less than 50% of people) Redness or swelling at the injection site
Often (less than 10% of people) Itching at the injection site, fever, discomfort, joint pain

To obtain more informations, consult the information leaflet on Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV).

We recommend that you stay at the clinic for at least 15 minutes after vaccination because allergic reactions may occur. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination. The person giving the vaccine will be able to treat this reaction immediately.

To date, more than 65 million doses of vaccine against HPV have been administered around the world. Current data show that side effects are the same as those that were observed in prior scientific studies. In most cases, these effects are benign.

To date, no link has been established between the vaccine against HPV and any serious diseases or death.