HPV Vaccine: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine protects against HPV. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are many types of HPV. Some types of the virus can cause genital warts in men and women. Other types can cause cervical or oral cancer and some uncommon cancers, such as anal and vaginal cancer.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends the vaccine for females and males ages 9 to 26. The vaccine may also be given to women ages 27 to 45 who didn't get the vaccine when they were younger. HPV vaccine recommendations may be different in your province or territory. Check with your doctor or provincial ministry of health to find the HPV vaccine recommendations in your area.

The best time to get the vaccine is before a person becomes sexually active. This is because the vaccine works best before there is any chance of infection with HPV. When the vaccine is given at this time, it can prevent almost all infection by the types of HPV the vaccine guards against. If someone has already been infected with the virus, the vaccine does not provide protection against the virus.

Having the HPV vaccine does not change a woman's need for Pap tests. Women who have had the HPV vaccine should follow the same Pap test schedule as women who have not had the vaccine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Ask your doctor about when you need the next shot.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Common side effects of getting the vaccine include headache, fever, and redness or swelling at the site of the shot. Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), if you have any of these side effects after the shot. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • If you are a parent of a child who's getting the shot, talk to your child about HPV and the vaccine. It's a chance to teach your child about safer sex and STIs. Having your child get the shot doesn't mean you're giving your child permission to have sex.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • You have a fever for more than 1 day.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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