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6 Questions you might have about the HPV vaccine

HPV stands for human papilloma virus.

There are hundreds of strains of HPV but some of the strains are more harmful than others and can lead to cancerous cells.

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1. Why do I need the HPV vaccination now?
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Research shows that your early teens is the best age to have the HPV vaccination. Thanks to the vaccine, your body can start building up resistance to protect you.

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2. What does the vaccine do?
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There are many strains of HPV.  The HPV vaccine protects against strains 6, 11, 16 and 18 which are responsible for causing genital warts and more than 70% of cervical cancer cases, as well as penile, anal and throat cancer.

HPV is passed on through close intimate contact between partners.  In most cases, it won’t cause any harm and will clear by itself, but on occasions it can alter the cells in the cervix (the opening to the womb), the penis, anus and throat, which can become cancerous.  Having the HPV vaccination is important because we don’t know who is at risk of going on to develop cancer.

From birth, you will have been offered vaccines to protect you from many diseases and, over your lifetime, you’ll continue to be offered more. Read more about the secondary school vaccinations programme.

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3. How will I be given the vaccine?
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From September 2019 both boys and girls will be offered the first injection in year 8.  The second dose will be offered from 6 months after the first, but it can be given up to 24 months after.

It’s essential that you have both doses to be fully protected.

If your first dose is given after your fifteenth birthday, you will require 3 doses of the HPV vaccine to ensure you are fully protected.

 

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4. Who will give me the vaccination?
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You’ll be given the vaccine by a nurse who will visit you at school.

Depending on where you live, you and your parent/carer should have completed a consent form, either online or in letter form, before the school session. (It’s important to complete this and return it to school even if you have chosen not to protect yourself)

If you’re nervous, have any questions or worries, it’s ok!  The nurse is there to help you!

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5. Will it hurt?
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The vaccination is given as an injection in the muscle at the top of your arm – but don’t worry because it’s very quick. The nurses who will be giving you the injection do thousands of vaccinations every year , so will be able to put you at ease.

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6. How would I know if I had HPV?
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There are not always signs of the HPV, but for girls, any unusual bleeding which isn’t connected to your periods, should be checked out by a doctor.

Cervical screening (also known as a smear test) checks if the cells around the cervix are healthy.  This screening is offered to all women aged 25 and over.  It is very important to have this check even if you have had the HPV vaccine.

For boys, it’s important to examine yourself regularly and consult a doctor promptly if you notice any lumps, bumps, discharges, bleeding or skin changes.

how to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.

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