The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in Canada. Over 80% of people who have had sexual contact will have at least one HPV infection at some point during their lives.
  • There are many types of HPV; some are low risk and some are high risk.
    • High-risk types of HPV can lead to cancers of the cervix, mouth, throat, vagina, vulva, and anus. HPV types 16 and 18 cause over 70% of cervical cancers. High-risk HPV has no early symptoms.
    • Low-risk HPV types do not cause cancer. Low-risk HPV types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts.
  • HPV is transmitted by current and past sexual contact (wanted and unwanted), including:
    • Skin-to-skin contact between one person’s genital area and another person’s genital, anal, or oral area.
    • Sex with shared sex toys.
  • Condoms cannot be relied upon to prevent HPV infection as there is skin outside of the condom that touches during sexual contact.
  • HPV can be transmitted between any two people regardless of sexual orientation or identity.
  • HPV can live in the body for decades and not cause any problems, and then at some point, develop into abnormal cells that can lead to cancer.
  • A vaccine teaches your body how to fight an infection before you actually get infected. This type of protection is called immunity.
  • The earlier in life a person gets the HPV vaccine the better it works. If the HPV vaccine is given before a person has sexual contact, they will be protected against:
    • 90% of genital warts,
    • 90% of cervical cancers,
    • 90% of anal cancers,
    • 40% of penile cancers,
    • 55% of vulvar cancers,
    • 55% of vaginal cancers, and
    • 75% of mouth and throat cancers.
  • If you have already been sexually active, had abnormal Pap test results, or even an HPV-related cancer, you can still benefit from the HPV vaccine. The chance is low that a person will have all types of HPV covered by the HPV vaccine.
  • People with female on their Manitoba health card who are born in or after 1997 and people with male on their Manitoba health card who are born in or after 2002 are eligible to receive the HPV vaccine and have it paid for by Manitoba Health.
  • For healthy females and males 11 to less than 15 years of age, 2 doses are recommended. For those who are 15 years of age and older, a 3-dose schedule is recommended, unless the first dose of vaccine was administered before the age of 15.
  • Others deemed to be at high-risk for an HPV infection, are eligible to receive up to 3 doses of the HPV vaccination covered by Manitoba Health. These include:
    • Immunocompetent HIV-infected males 9-26 years of age and females 9-45 years of age.
    • Males 9-26 years of age and females 9-45 years of age who have congenital immune deficiencies (B cell deficient, T cell mixed defects, phagocytic and neutrophil disorders, complement deficiency) or acquired immune deficiencies (pre-solid organ transplant or post-solid organ transplants, hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, as per CancerCare Manitoba Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Immunization Schedule).
    • Males ≤ 18 years of age who are, or who have ever been, incarcerated.
    • Individuals who are currently, or who have previously been, diagnosed with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
    • Males 9-26 years of age who identify as gay or bisexual.
    • Transgender males and transgender females 9-26 years of age.
    • Females 9-45 years of age who have a newly diagnosed high-grade cervical histopathology result.
    • Males 9-26 years of age and females 9-45 years of age who are victims of sexual assault.  
    • Patients currently under the care of a haematologist or oncologist from CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) who have the following conditions and have been provided a CCMB directed Immunization Schedule:
      • Malignant neoplasms (solid tissue and haematological) including leukemia and lymphoma, or clonal blood disorder, and who will receive or have completed immunosuppressive therapy including chemotherapy or radiation therapy,or
      • Hypo- or asplenic (Sickle Cell Disease, etc.)
  • Those who are outside of the criteria listed above may still be able to access the vaccine but the cost will not be covered by Manitoba Health. Instead, the person getting the vaccine will need to pay for the vaccine. It is important to note that some health plans help cover the cost of vaccinations. People who can still benefit from being vaccinated against HPV include:
    • People who have already had sexual contact.
    • People who have had an abnormal Pap test result.
    • People who have had a cancer caused by HPV.
  • If you are a female who is not sure if you have been vaccinated against HPV, you can request your cervical cancer screening history from CervixCheck by filling out the Send me my Pap test results form on this page.

  • Those who should not be vaccinated against HPV include:
    • people under age 9.
    • pregnant women.
  • Two doses at zero and six months are required for:
    • healthy people age 9-14, and
    • non-HIV infected adolescents age 9-14.

For example, if you got your first dose in the month of January, you would get your second dose in June.

  • Three doses at zero, two months, and six months are required for:
    • immunocompromised people under the age of 15 and
    • healthy people over the age of 15.

For example, if you got your first dose in the month of January, you would get your second dose in March, and your third dose in June.

  • Currently, there is no booster required.
  • The HPV vaccine is available:
    • In grade 6 at school.
    • Through your healthcare provider, local public health nurse, or at your local pharmacy.
  • If you meet the eligibility criteria (e.g. healthy female born after January 1, 1997), you do not need a prescription from a healthcare provider.
  • If you have female on your Manitoba health card and are born before January 1, 1997, you will need a prescription from your healthcare provider.
  • If you have male on your Manitoba health card born before January 1, 2022, you will need a prescription from your healthcare provider.

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 HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.

Contact

1-855-95-CHECK (1-855-952-4325)

Interpreter services available upon request.

screening@cancercare.mb.ca 

More information

Thank you to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation for supporting this important initiative.