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What is HPV? HPV stands for human papilloma virus. Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the US. More than half of sexually active people in the US have HPV at some time during their lives. It is spread through direct sexual contact.
HPV is important mainly because it can cause cervical cancer in women. Globally, cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in women. The virus can also cause genital warts in both men and women.
What types of HPV vaccine are available and what are the benefits? Two brands of HPV vaccine are available, and here is how they differ:
Gardasil prevents four major types of HPV, including two types that cause about 70% of cervical cancer, plus two types that cause about 90% of genital warts.
Cervarix prevents the 2 major types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer. It does not protect against the types of HPV that cause genital warts. (In general, Gardasil is recommended because it offers greater protection.)
Please note that if a person is already infected with a type of HPV, vaccination will not prevent disease from that type.
How is HPV vaccine given? HPV vaccine is given as a 3-dose series. The second dose is given 2 months after the first dose, and the third dose is given 6 months after the first dose.
How to get HPV vaccination at UHS: Vaccination is available by appointment only at the UHS Allergy, Immunization and Travel Health Clinic, To schedule, visit or call 734-764-8320.
To receive your second or third HPV shot at UHS:
If you got your first shot at UHS, bring your immunization card with you, or allow extra time so we can order your medical record.
If you got your first shot outside UHS, request the record of your HPV previous shot(s) be faxed to UHS at 734-763-7352. Request that your name and date of previous shot(s) be included.
Did you start the Cervarix series elsewhere? UHS does not offer Cervarix, but you may choose to continue with Gardasil, however if you continue with Gardasil and don't receive 3 doses of it, your immunity against two HPV strains that cause genital warts may be incomplete. (However, your immunity against two strains that cause cervical cancer will be complete.)
Are you less than 18 years old? If so, you will need consent from a parent or guardian for vaccination. You can use the UHS Consent for Treatment of a Minor form (PDF).
What is the cost at UHS? Cost is $175 per dose of Gardasil, subject to change.
Does insurance cover HPV vaccination? UHS will attempt to bill most insurances for HPV vaccine. Please check with your insurance company to verify coverage.
The U-M Aetna health insurance plans for 2014-15 (Domestic Student Health Insurance Plan and International Student and Scholar Health Insurance Plan) cover 100% of cost for this vaccine series through age 26.
Premier Care and GradCare cover this vaccine series in full for ages 9 through 26.
HPV vaccination through Washtenaw County Health Department: Washtenaw County Health Department provides low-cost HPV vaccination to qualified, underinsured individuals.
Who should get this vaccine?
Gardasil vaccine is recommended for females 11-26 years old and for males ages 11-21, and for males through age 26 who have sex with men or whose immune system is weakened because of HIV infection, other illness, or medications.
UHS does not recommend Cervarix vaccine because it does not protect as well as Gardasil.
Children should get the vaccine through their pediatrician.
It is preferable to receive the vaccine before beginning sexual activity. However, vaccination is still recommended (depending on age) for those who are already sexually active.
Who should NOT get this vaccine?
Anyone with life-threatening allergic reaction to yeast or any other component of HPV vaccine, or to a previous dose of HPV vaccine. Tell your health care provider if you have severe allergies.
Pregnant women should not get the vaccine. However, receiving HPV vaccine when pregnant is not a reason to consider terminating a pregnancy.
People with moderate or severe illness should wait until they recover. People who are mildly ill can still get the vaccine.
Risks: HPV vaccine does not appear to have serious side effects. As with any vaccine, however, HPV vaccine could possibly cause serious problems such as severe allergic reaction. The risk is small.
Minor problems may occur (and will likely go away on their own) including:
- Pain, redness, itching or swelling at injection site (arm)
- Mild to moderate fever (100-102 degrees F)
Vaccinated women still need cervical cancer screening (Pap smears) because the vaccine does not protect against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer. See also Pap Smears and HPV.
For more information:
UHS Allergy, Immunization and Travel Health Clinic 734-764-8320
Washtenaw County Health Department provides low-cost HPV vaccination to qualified, underinsured individuals.
Web resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: