Do you remember getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine when you were younger? If so, you’re far from alone! Estimates suggest that more than 270 million doses of HPV vaccination have been given worldwide, including 120 million in the United States alone [1]. And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), generally recommend that children are vaccinated between the ages of 11-12, they also note that everyone through to the age of 26 years can and should be vaccinated.

HPV is so common that nearly everyone will contract the virus at some point in their lives. Still, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of HPV, and one of the most reliable of those includes getting vaccinated early and attending regular screening tests. Do you have more questions that need answering? This is everything you should know about the HPV vaccine.

Related article: What is HPV?

What do you need to know about the HPV vaccine?

The HPV virus is a sexually transmitted infection that’s commonly spread through, you guessed it, sexual contact. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 100 types of HPV and while some cause genital warts, others can be the cause of cervical cancer.

Since the vaccine was rolled out in the U.S. in the early 2000s, infections of the HPV type that causes genital warts have dropped by over 85% in teenage girls and the percentage of cervical precancers caused by variants of the virus have fallen by 40% [2].

Related article: The Different Types of HPV: High-Risk, Low-Risk, Testing and Treatment

When should you get the HPV vaccine?

The CDC recommends that children get the vaccine between the ages of 11-12 years. The reason behind this is the ‘sooner rather than later’ mentality; when you’re vaccinated at this age, the vaccine can protect against the virus well before you have even been exposed to it.

Remember, if you were not vaccinated at a younger age, young adults can still get the HPV vaccination through to the age of 26 years. If you are aged 27 through 45 years, it’s worth speaking with your healthcare provider about the best options for you dependent on certain factors such as personal risks and benefits [3].

Related article: How Do You Get HPV?

Has the HPV vaccine been trialed?

The HPV vaccine has been studied for over 14 years and there have been numerous clinical trials since it was first licensed in 2006. Monitoring is still ongoing to ensure its safety and effectiveness.

What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?

Like many vaccinations, the HPV vaccine can cause a number of side effects however, they are usually quite mild. The most common include pain or swelling in the arm where you received the injection, dizziness, nausea, or headaches.

When you receive the vaccine, you will typically be advised to sit for 15 minutes to reduce the risk of fainting.

What happens if you only get one HPV shot?

The HPV vaccine consists of two doses, the second dose of HPV vaccine is usually given 6-12 months after the first. However, recent findings show that women who received only the first dose were still protected against some cancer-causing HPV types [4]. While this study is incredibly encouraging - a single-dose vaccination would make a great difference in preventing cervical cancer, more research is potentially needed.

If you have only received one dose of the HPV vaccine, reach out to your healthcare provider to check in on what your best options are.

As well as vaccination, one of the most reliable ways to avoid any complications associated with HPV is through regular testing - this can be done with your doctor or from home with an at-home HPV test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home HPV test detects high-risk strains of cervical cancer. It involves a simple cervical swab sample and online results will be available within 2-5 days. Should you have any questions throughout the process, our dedicated clinical team is there to offer a helping hand, explain your results, and take you through any recommended next steps. This test is not a replacement for regular cervical (pap) smear tests.

You should take the test if*:

  • You have had skin to skin contact with someone who is carrying the HPV virus
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You have not received an HPV vaccine

It is important to discuss this test with your doctor if you are outside the recommended age for HPV screening programs.


  1. American Cancer Society. HPV Vaccine Facts. Online:
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When to get HPV Vaccine. Online:
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When to get HPV Vaccine. Online:
  4. National Cancer Institute. Single Dose of HPV Vaccine Yields Long-Term Protection from Many Cancer-Causing Types. Online: