Are There Different HPV Vaccines?

Paul A. Offit, MD, talks about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. He also describes the different strains it contains and which ones protect against genital warts and cancers caused by HPV.


Are there different HPV vaccines?

Paul Offit, MD: Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center, here at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

One question that parents ask our center is, “How many different types of HPV vaccine are there?” Now, HPV stands for human papillomavirus; that’s a virus that can cause cancer of the head and neck and anal and genital region. We see about 30,000 cancers a year caused by that virus. We see 5,000 deaths a year caused by that virus. The answer to the question “How many different types of HPV vaccine are there?” is one. There is actually only one type of HPV vaccine. It’s a vaccine that contains nine different strains in there, or at least nine different components that can protect against HPV. Now, two of those strains, so-called 6 and 11, will protect against 100% of what causes anal and genital warts. The other seven strains protect against a variety of cancers — cervical cancers, head and neck cancers, anal and genital cancers. Now, HPV does not cause 100%, for example, of throat cancers, but it does cause 100% of cervical cancer. So the vaccine, the HPV vaccine — those other seven serotypes — will protect against really about 90% of the strains that cause cervical cancer. And then variably, depending on the other cancers, it will protect against a certain percentage of the causes of those other cancers.

So, it’s a vaccine that is of value. It’s highly effective. It’s safe. It’s probably the most studied vaccine formally post-licensure; it’s been studied formally in more than a million people post-licensure, and the only safety concern that is associated with that vaccine is that it is occasionally a cause of fainting, which is why you’re asked to sort of stay in the doctor’s office for a few minutes after you’ve gotten the vaccine.

So, it’s a safe and effective vaccine; it’s a cancer-preventing vaccine; and it’s an important vaccine to get.

Thank you.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Jan 20, 2020