Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the Vaccine

What is HPV?

  • HPV is short for human papillomavirus. HPV can cause genital warts and cancer (cervical, anal, genital, mouth and throat).

How can I get HPV?


  • Through skin-to-skin contact (kissing or touching) with the genital areas (including the penis, scrotum, vagina, vulva or anus) of a person who has the HPV infection.
  • It is not necessary to have sex to get HPV.
  • Many people with HPV don't know they have the virus and may go on to infect others.

What is in the HPV vaccine?

GardasilMD9 Contents

Where else are they found?

HPV proteins

Human papillomavirus

Sodium chloride

Human body, salt


Vegetables, cereal, deodorant


Human body, beans, fish, milk

Polysorbate 80

Ice cream, cottage cheese

Sodium borate

Water, soil


Human body, bread, bagels

What are the benefits of getting the HPV vaccine (Gardasil®9)?

  • Research has shown that Gardasil®9 protects against 9 of the most common and harmful types of HPV that cause cervical and other cancers.

It is also effective in preventing genital warts.

Is Gardasil®9 safe?

  • Yes!
  • Gardasil®9 clinical study results are very similar to Gardasil®  which has been safely used in Canada for ten years.
  • In 2016, there was only 1 serious reaction to Gardasil in all of Ontario out of ~ 210,000 doses given (Vaccine Safety Surveillance Technical Data Notes 2017).
  • You cannot get HPV from the vaccine.

What are the side effects from Gardasil®9?

Most Common

Less Common

Very Rare and Serious

Redness, pain and/or swelling at the site, especially during the first 24 hours

Headache and/or mild fever

Serious allergic reaction causing trouble breathing, swelling of the face or mouth, hives

Treatment: Apply ice to the area where you got the vaccine and/or take acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®)

Clinic nurses are trained to treat severe reactions

How can I protect myself from HPV?

  • Get the vaccine.
  • Be abstinent.
  • If you are considering being sexually active, there are ways to protect yourself against HPV.  Talk to your parents, health care provider or go to for more information.
  • Get tested! There is no routine diagnostic test for HPV, but Pap tests can find cancers of the cervix early. Regular dental check-ups can find early changes that might lead to oral cancers caused by HPV.

Compare the risks: Virus or Vaccine?

Virus Risk

Vaccine Risk

About 75% of people could be exposed to an HPV infection at some point in their lives

Sore arm - 9 in 10 people

14,700 cases of genital warts diagnosed per year in Ontario

Headache or mild fever- up to 2 in 10 people

630 women diagnosed with cervical cancer and 150 HPV related cancer deaths per year in Ontario.

Serious reactions

very rare

How can I prepare for the vaccine?

  • Talk to your parent or guardian about the vaccine.
  • Learn ways to deal with your worry about the vaccination (focus on breathing, look away from the needle, count to ten, etc.).
  • Wear a short sleeve shirt.
  • Eat breakfast and have an extra juice or small snack to avoid fainting (common with growing teens).

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