HPV Vaccination is Safe and Effective

HPV vaccination provides safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against cancers caused by HPV.

HPV vaccination is very safe

Over 12 years of monitoring and research have shown that HPV vaccination is very safe. Each HPV vaccine—Gardasil® 9, Gardasil®, and Cervarix®—went through years of extensive safety testing before they were licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA only licenses a vaccine if it is safe, effective, and the benefits outweigh the risks.

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Gardasil® 9 was studied in clinical trials with more than 15,000 females and males.

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Gardasil® was studied in clinical trials with more than 29,000 females and males.

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Cervarix® was studied in clinical trials with more than 30,000 females.

Each vaccine was found to be safe and effective in clinical trials. Since late 2016, Gardasil® 9 has been the only HPV vaccine available for use in the U.S.

As with all approved vaccines, CDC and FDA closely monitor the safety of HPV vaccines after they are licensed. Any safety concerns detected with these vaccines will be reported to health officials, healthcare professionals, and the public.

Over 120 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been distributed since the vaccine was licensed, and data continue to show the vaccine is safe and effective.

Possible side effects

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Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Common side effects from the HPV shot are mild and go away quickly. The most common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Dizziness or fainting (fainting after any vaccine, including the HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents)
  • Nausea
  • Headache or feeling tired
  • Muscle or joint pain

To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, adolescents should be seated or lying down during vaccination and remain in that position for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.

It is important to tell the doctor or nurse if your child has any severe allergies, including an allergy to latex or yeast.

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HPV vaccine does not cause HPV infection or cancer. HPV vaccine is made from one protein from the virus and is not infectious, meaning that it cannot cause HPV infection or cancer.

HPV and fertility

There is no evidence to suggest that the HPV vaccine causes fertility problems. Not getting HPV vaccine leaves people vulnerable to HPV cancers and precancers (abnormal cells that can lead to cancer). Women who develop a precancer or cancer caused by HPV could require treatment that would limit their ability to have children, such as a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, or radiation. Treatment for cervical precancer could also put a woman at risk for problems with her cervix, which could cause preterm delivery.

HPV vaccination is preventing cancer-causing infections and precancers

HPV infections and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have dropped signi­ficantly since the vaccine has been in use.

  • Among teen girls, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 86 percent.
  • Among young adult women, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 71 percent.
  • Among vaccinated women, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer has dropped by 40 percent.

Long-lasting protection

Studies suggest that the protection provided by HPV vaccine is long lasting. Studies have followed people who received HPV vaccine for about 10 years, and protection has remained high in those individuals. There has been no evidence of the protection decreasing over time.

Read more: Summaries, reports, and frequently asked questions about HPV Vaccine Safety.

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