HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common STI in the United States and spreads through intimate skin-to-skin or sexual contact. It’s so common that almost every person will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.
While most HPV infections will go away on their own within 2 years, sometimes they can linger and cause cancers later in life. Over 27,000 people each year are affected by a cancer from HPV. However, getting the HPV vaccine can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by HPV. That’s why it’s so important to be vaccinated, and why we’re thrilled we’re able to offer the vaccine in our health centers.
“The HPV vaccination has always been something we recommended strongly to our patients,” said Julie Niedens, director of colposcopy services at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. “Now that we offer the vaccine in our health centers, we’re making it a lot easier for patients to get the vaccine.”
The CDC recommends that adolescents ages 11-12 should receive the HPV vaccine to ensure protection before exposure to the virus. However, anyone between age 9-45 can receive the vaccine.
“Ideally, patients will get the vaccination series before any sexual contact,” Julie said. “But they can and should; however, start the vaccination series after they are sexually active if they did not get it in adolescence.”
The HPV vaccine prevents 9 strains of HPV, including the most dangerous strain that causes cervical cancer. If you have a history of pre-cervical cancer, you should still receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine will also prevent the reoccurrence of other HPV-related diseases, such as anogenital warts.
We are offering the 9-strain HPV vaccine in a series of 3 shots over 6 months. If you started the HPV vaccine series but never finished, or you were vaccinated for the 4-strain series, don’t worry! You can complete the series with us, you don’t have to restart.
The majority of our patients will be able to get the HPV vaccination for no cost because they qualify for state-funded FPACT program or they have Medi-Cal, managed Medi-Cal, or insurance. For those paying out of pocket, the price is $960 for the 3-dose series.
FPACT, medical, and commercial insurance will cover the HPV vaccine starting at age 19, and Merck will also cover the cost of the vaccine for patients ages 19-45 who want the vaccine but don’t have insurance. Patients ages 18 and under can still get the vaccine with us at cash price; however, patients ages 18 and under may also qualify for no-cost vaccinations through your pediatrician or primary care doctor.
Like other vaccines, there are minimal risks of a reaction to the HPV vaccine. Side effects can include soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given, as well as fever or headache. Still, the vaccine is recommended to everyone except for pregnant women.
“Anybody is at risk for acquiring a new HPV infection in the future,” said Julie. “HPV infections are preventable, so we encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
Make an appointment with our health centers today to get your HPV vaccine!