Myth: There is only one HPV vaccine.
Reality: There are currently three HPV vaccines on the market in the United States: Gardasil 9, Gardasil, and Cervarix. It is possible to select which HPV vaccine you wish to have, and/or wish for your child to have. Gardasil 9 protects against HPV strands 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 48, and 52, protecting against the types of HPV that cause 90% of genital warts and 90% of HPV-related cancers. Gardasil protects against HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18, protecting against approximately 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of all genital warts. Cervarix protects against HPV 16 and 18, these strands cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancers.
Myth: I already have HPV, there is no reason for me to get the vaccine.
Reality: According to the CDC, there are over 150 strands, currently identified, which make up the HPV label. Each vaccine available protects against multiple high risk strands of HPV.
Myth: The HPV vaccine can make pre-existing HPV infections worse.
Reality: There is no credible medical documentation that supports the myth that the HPV vaccine can make pre-existing HPV infections worse.
Myth: The HPV vaccine is a free pass for promiscuity, so I will just wait until my child becomes sexually active.
Reality: This vaccine is not a free pass for your child to become sexually active. This vaccine is designed to prevent individuals from contracting and spreading a virus which causes cancer. It is best to receive the vaccine before any sort of sexual interaction occurs, especially since it is transmitted by intimate skin-to-skin contact. No one wants to think about their children having sex, but this vaccine isn't about sex it is about saving lives. The CDC put out a great graphic touching on this key topic. It is found at the bottom of this blog post.
Myth: HPV only affects females, so males do not need the vaccine.
Reality: This is a misnomer, there is not a commercially available test for men to determine if a male is carrying HPV. However, men do contract and carry HPV. Men typically do not have symptoms when they carry HPV. Some strands of HPV can cause genital warts in men. Few strands of HPV can cause cancer in men such as oral, anal, or penile. Gardasil 9 protects against HPV strands 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 48, and 52, protecting against the types of HPV that cause 90% of genital warts and 90% of HPV-related cancers.
Myth: The HPV vaccine causes life long side effects and has caused many deaths.
Reality: According to the CDC, the only common side effects correlated with the HPV vaccines include: pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given, fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, muscle or joint pain. All of these are side effects which are not identified as life long side effects. There are no reputable medical resources which document life long side effects or deaths related to receiving a HPV vaccine. The CDC covers, in depth, safety concerns related to the HPV vaccine.
Myth: The HPV vaccine does not have enough medical research.
Reality: The HPV vaccine has had extensive medical research completed, here is a document from the CDC with an overview of information related to the research. Here is additional CDC information available related to the safety and validity of the HPV vaccine.
Myth: Getting my child vaccinated for HPV means I am giving him/her permission to be sexually active.
Reality: Providing your child with this vaccine does not give them a green light to become sexually active. Here is a document, provided by the CDC, for doctors to help explain the benefits of the HPV vaccine to parents.
Myth: My child won't have sex until marriage, they don't need the HPV vaccine.
Reality: Even if an individual doesn't have sex until marriage, the HPV vaccine is still going to be a beneficial tool in ensuring they do not contract HPV. Remember, HPV is not spread through bodily fluids, it is spread through skin to skin contact. He/she could contract HPV without having intercourse, even if they wait until marriage for intercourse.
Myth: The HPV vaccine can cause an HPV infection.
Reality: The HPV vaccine is made from one protein from the HPV virus that is not infectious (cannot cause HPV infection) and nononcogenic (does not cause cancer).