Vaccines

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One important prevention tool against sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs/STIs) is vaccination. Currently, vaccines are available to protect against infection with HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Other vaccines are under development, including those for HIV and herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Hepatitis B


Who should be vaccinated against hepatitis B?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hepatitis B vaccination for:

  • Sex partners of anyone who has hepatitis B
  • Anyone who is sexually active but not in a long-term, monogamous relationship
  • Those treated for STD/STIs
  • Men who have sex with men

Others recommended for hepatitis B vaccine include:

  • All infants and children under age 19 who have not had the vaccine
  • Injecting drug users who share needles
  • Those living in households with someone who has hepatitis B
  • Anyone whose work places them in contact with blood
  • Those with HIV or chronic liver disease
  • Individuals in correctional facilities
  • Travelers to areas with a high prevalence of hepatitis B

How is it given?

Three or four shots over six months.

Is it safe and effective?

The hepatitis B vaccine is safe, and the most commonly reported side effect is soreness at the injection site. Those completing the series have greater than 90% protection against hepatitis B.


Hepatitis A


Who should have it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hepatitis A vaccination for:

  • All children
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Illegal drug users

Others recommended for hepatitis A vaccine:

  • Anyone traveling to an area with a high prevalence of hepatitis A
  • Those with hepatitis B or C

How is it given?

Two shots, six months apart. A hepatitis A/hepatitis B combination vaccine can also be given to adults. The combined vaccine is given in three doses over six months.

Is it safe and effective?

The hepatitis A vaccine is effective and provides long-term protection after the second dose. Soreness at the injection site is the most common side effect reported.



Human papilomavirus (HPV) vaccine


Who is it recommended for?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HPV vaccination for:

  • Approved and recommended for females ages 11-26, for the prevention of cervical cancer and genital warts.
  • Approved for use in males ages 9-26 for the prevention of genital warts.

How is it given?

In three doses over six months.

Is it safe and effective?

Both the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say HPV vaccines are safe. The most commonly reported side effects include pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site. Some patients report fainting, so those receiving the vaccine are encouraged to wait at least 15 minutes before leaving the clinic or medical office.

HPV vaccines currently on the market, Gardasil® and Cervarix®, offer close to 100% protection after three doses against the two types of HPV (called HPV 16 and HPV 18, respectively) that are found in about 70% of cervical cancers. Gardasil® also protects against two additional HPV types that are responsible for approximately 90% of genital warts.

Neither vaccine protects against all types of HPV, so women who are vaccinated still need regular cervical cancer screening (such as Pap tests).


Watch the video below to learn about common questions parents and patients have about HPV vaccines: