The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

HPV is a very
common virus.

80% of people will have an
HPV infection in their lifetime.

  • HPV passes easily between past or current sexual contact. Sexual contact includes oral, genital (penis or anus) or rectal skin-to-skin contact between any two people. 
  • HPV does not discriminate. It does not matter if you have sexual contact with males or females.
  • There are often no symptoms of an HPV infection.

HPV can cause
cancer and warts.

There are different types of HPV. Low risk HPV types cause warts. High risk types of HPV can lead to cancer.

  • Low risk types of HPV do not cause cancer, but can cause warts of the genitals (vulva, penis), anus, and mouth.
  • High risk types of HPV are more likely to develop into cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, mouth, throat, and penis.
  • In Manitoba, we do not test for HPV, so we cannot know what type of HPV we have or do not have. Remember, 80% of us will have at least one HPV infection in our lifetime.

The HPV vaccine
can prevent cancer
and warts.

The HPV vaccine protects against many cancers, when given before
skin-to-skin contact occurs.

  • If the HPV vaccine is given before skin-to-skin contact, it can protect against:
    • 90% of cervical cancers
    • 90% of anal cancers
    • 90% of genital warts
    • 40% of penile cancers
    • 55% vulvar
    • 55% vaginal
    • 75% Mouth/throat
  • Earlier is better! The vaccine gives the best protection if given:
    • in grade 6. The immune response is better in someone who is 11 or 12 than someone who is a teen or adult.
    • before a person has sexual contact.
  • Females who receive the HPV vaccine will still need regular cervical cancer screening starting at age 21. The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.

Get the HPV
vaccine.

To access the HPV vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or public health nurse.

  • Females born on or after January 1, 1997 and males born on or after January 1, 2002 are eligible to receive the HPV vaccine through Manitoba's publicly funded HPV Immunization Program (grade 6) at no cost.
  • Other groups of individuals may be eligible to receive the HPV vaccine at no cost. Click here for more information.
  • 2 doses are required for those under the age of 15.
  • 3 doses are required for anyone 15 years of age or older.
  • Those who are not covered through the publicly funded HPV Immunization Program can still access the vaccine, but will need to cover the cost and get a prescription. Some medical insurance carriers provide some vaccine coverage.

More Information

The HPV vaccine is a safe vaccine. 

Like any vaccine or medication, side effects may occur. The most commonly reported side effects from the HPV vaccine include:

  • soreness,
  • pain, and
  • swelling

at the site of injection. To date, no serious side effects have been shown to be caused by the HPV vaccine.

Before a vaccine is approved by Health Canada and ready to use in Canada, it undergoes a long testing process that takes at least 10 years. Health Canada approves vaccines based on a scientific review of their quality, safety, and effectiveness.

After a vaccine is approved, it is monitored on an ongoing basis at a local, provincial, and national level for any adverse events after immunization. An adverse event following immunizations (AEFI) is any unwanted effect that occurs in a person after they are given a vaccine. Each case is carefully reviewed to determine if the adverse event was caused by the HPV vaccine. Systems and groups exist to continually monitor, review, and recommend after each adverse event following immunization. These groups include:

  • Immunization and Monitoring Program ACTive
  • Public Health Nurses
  • Medical Officers of Health
  • Manitoba Centre for Disease Control
  • Canadian Adverse Events Following Immunization Surveillance System (Public Health Agency of Canada)
  • Advisory Committee on Causality Assessment
  • National Advisory Committee on Immunization
  • World Health Organization International Drug Monitoring Programme
  • World Health Organization Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety

 

The benefits of the HPV vaccine include:

  • if the HPV vaccine is received before sexual contact occurs, it can provide protection against:
    • 90% of cervical cancers
    • 90% of anal cancers
    • 90% of genital warts
    • 40% of penile cancers
    • 55% vulvar
    • 55% vaginal
    • 75% mouth/throat
  • The HPV vaccine is safe and well tolerated.
  • The HPV vaccine does not cause an HPV infection.

Be aware that the:

  • most common side effects from the HPV vaccine include soreness, pain, and swelling at the site of injection. To date, no reported serious side effects have been shown to be caused by the HPV vaccine.
  • HPV vaccine will not protect against existing HPV infections. For example, if a person gets the HPV vaccine after having HPV 16, they will no longer be protected against HPV 16.
  • HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cancer.

 

As parents, we all want to protect the health and well-being of our children. Most people will get an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime. HPV is a very common virus that can cause genital warts, pre-cancerous cells and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, mouth, throat, anus, and penis. You can prevent cancer in your child from cancers caused by the HPV types covered in the HPV vaccine by choosing to vaccinate your child against HPV. It's that simple.

  • The most common side effects reported from the HPV vaccine include soreness, pain, and swelling at the site of injection.
  • To help prepare your child to manage the feelings and sensations they may experience on the day they receive the HPV vaccine, check out a series of resources produced by The Hospital for Sick Children:
  • Not all sources of information on the internet are reliable. To read more about how to find reliable websites about the HPV vaccine, click here (pdf).
  • Talk to your health care provider or local public health nurse if you have questions about the HPV vaccine.

To read information written by Manitoba Health, Seniors, and Active Living for parents about the HPV vaccine, safety, and the Manitoba HPV Immunization Program:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Canada have a website directed to the general public on the topics of HPV, signs and symptoms, prevention, and frequently asked questions. 

  • HPVinfo.ca (The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada)

To learn more about immunizations and how they protect against many diseases, see these Canadian sites:

This site summarizes the scientific evidence about all vaccines approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada:

If you have questions about the HPV vaccine, you can contact Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living at vaccines@gov.mb.ca

As an educator, you may get questions about the HPV immunization and other immunizations that you are not sure how to answer. Below are some links that might prove helpful as you navigate questions.

To read information written by Manitoba Health, Seniors, and Active Living for parents about the HPV vaccine, safety, and the Manitoba HPV Immunization Program:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Canada have a website directed to the general public on the topics of HPV, signs and symptoms, prevention, and frequently asked questions. Included for educators are lesson plans, other teaching tools, and resources for order.

To learn more about immunizations and how they protect against many diseases, see these Canadian sites:

To help prepare students to manage the feelings and sensations they may experience on the day they receive the HPV vaccine, check out a series of resources produced by The Hospital for Sick Children:

If you cannot find the answer to your question, you can contact:

Your recommendation counts! Health care providers play a key role in promoting immunizations.

Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living HPV Immunization documents for health care providers:

Contemporary Clinical Questions on HPV-Related Diseases and Vaccination (EnglishFrench | References) (Gynaecologist Oncologists of Canada) (pdf)

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Canada have a website directed to the general public on the topics of HPV, signs and symptoms, prevention, and frequently asked questions. Included for educators are lesson plans, other teaching tools, and resources for order.

  • HPVinfo.ca (The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada)

This site summarizes the scientific evidence about all vaccines approved by Health Canada, including the HPV vaccine:

To help prepare students to manage the feelings and sensations they may experience on the day they receive the HPV vaccine, check out a series of resources produced by The Hospital for Sick Children:

Immunize BC has a three step approach to engaging in conversation with patients called The A-S-K Approach, as well as a resource for communicating about immunizations with patients:

Gardasil®9 Vaccine Product Monograph (Merck Canada Inc.) (pdf)

If you have questions about the HPV vaccine, contact Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living at vaccines@gov.mb.ca

If there is a resource you would like to see listed here or you have a suggestion for an education tool that would be useful in your practice, email the CancerCare Manitoba Screening Programs.

Messages to Parents

Cervical Cancer Survivor, Winnipeg, age 42 (diagnosed at age 39)
My world was turned upside down when I was only 39 years old and told that I had cancer. I'm currently in remission and want you to know that as a parent of a 10 year old little girl, I would never want to see her suffer the way I did. You have the  opportunity to prevent unnecessary pain and hardship for not only your child, but for your entire family too. Please, don't chance it, vaccinate your child against HPV, it could save his or her life.

Anita, Morden, MB
What I would really love for parents to know is that I lost someone I loved dearly because of cervical cancer. She was someone who was with one partner her entire life, in a committed relationship. Her faith was really important to her. But she still had HPV and because of that she died at the age of 39. Had this vaccine been available to her when she was in grade 6, she would still be here to raise her girls.

A big thank you to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation for supporting this important initiative.