Vaccination is the best protection against infections caused by HPVs and their complications.

The HPV vaccine (Gardasil or Gardasil 9) is given free of charge to eligible individuals under the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Program.

The types of HPVs included in the vaccines account for most cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus and the mouth and throat.

The vaccines used in the vaccination program also protect against genital warts, which are caused by infections from certain types of HPVs. Genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted infections in Canada.

Very often, people infected with HPV do not have symptoms. A person can therefore be infected without knowing it.

Number of doses required

Depending on the person’s age, 2 or 3 doses of the vaccine are required over a period of 6 months to have the best protection.

The vaccine is most effective when the recipient has never had an HPV infection. Given that the infection usually occurs during the first years of sexual activity, the vaccine should ideally be given before the onset of sexual activity. The vaccine is however indicated even for someone who has already contracted an HPV infection.

Vaccination is not a substitute for cervical cancer screening.

Duration of protection

Protection lasts for a number of years.

Studies are being conducted around the world to evaluate long-term protection. If they show that an additional dose is needed to maintain protection, a booster dose will be given to those already vaccinated.

Symptoms after Vaccination

Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, e.g. redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, e.g. cold, gastro, headache.

The HPV vaccine is safe. Most reactions are harmless and do not last long.

The Nature and Frequency of Possible Reactions to Vaccine
FrequencyPossible reactions to the vaccine

In most cases
(more than 50% of people)

  • Pain at the injection site

Very often
(less than 50% of people)

  • Redness or swelling at the injection site

(less than 10% of people)

  • Itching at the injection site, fever

To date, more than 175 million doses of vaccine against HPV have been administered around the world. Current data show no serious or unexpected side effects related to this vaccine. No link has been established between the vaccine against HPV and any serious diseases or death.

The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux monitors side effects of the HPV vaccine.  As for all immunization programs, the monitoring of side effects is done through the Programme de surveillance passive des effets secondaires possiblement reliés à l’immunisation (ESPRI).

What to Do after Vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Use medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

When to Seek Medical Help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours