10 facts about HPV

Children and adolescents can get vaccinated against HPV. But what exactly is HPV? Who can get vaccinated and why is it a good idea? We list 10 facts about HPV vaccination so that you can make a good choice.

1. Infectious and inconspicuous

HPV is a virus, also called the human papillomavirus. You usually don't notice the virus, but it is very contagious. Without knowing it, you can infect someone else. Eight out of ten people get infected with HPV once or more in their lifetime. Fortunately, not all of them get sick. Usually, the body clears it itself. Sometimes it does not. Then HPV can cause cancer later in life.

Are you protecting yourself with a vaccination against HPV? Then you protect other people, too. The more people who are immune to a particular infection, the smaller the chance of it spreading.

2. HPV can cause cancer

In the 10% to 20% of people who have the HPV virus, the body does not clear it on its own. Then cancer can develop later in life.

The HPV virus can cause several types of cancer. For women these include cancer of the cervix, mouth and throat, vulva, anus and cancer of the vagina. In men, it is cancer of the oral and pharynx, anus and penis.

3. Why HPV vaccination is a good idea

Every year in the Netherlands, about 1,100 women and 400 men get cancer from HPV. The HPV vaccination protects against this. In women, a vaccination can prevent at least 74% of cancers caused by HPV. In men, it is 81%. With an HPV vaccination, you protect yourself against 6 types of cancer.

4. No serious side effects

The HPV vaccination is safe for both women and men and has no serious side effects. In the Netherlands, girls have been receiving the HPV vaccination for over 10 years. During this time, no serious or permanent side effects of the vaccination have ever been found, including in other countries. Your arm might feel a little painful around the area of vaccination. You may also get muscle pain. Sometimes you may experience some abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, nausea or fever. This will all pass after one to three days.

5. Boys since 2022 in the National Vaccination Program

Starting from 2022, boys also receive an invitation from the National Vaccination Program for the HPV vaccination. They too can protect themselves against HPV cancer this way.  HPV can cause 6 types of cancer. Men can also get it. Consider cancers of the anus, penis and oral and pharyngeal cavities. These variants are seen more and more often. Therefore, it is very important to also vaccinate boys against HPV.

6. HPV vaccine works best when you turn 10

The HPV vaccine works the best when you have not infected with the virus. That's why, since 2022, you get an invitation for the vaccination in the year you turn 10. Usually you are not yet infected by then. The Youth Health Department of the GGD Zuid Limburg organizes vaccination days twice a year, inviting boys and girls who turn 10 in that year. For a good protection, you need 2 vaccinations. There needs to be at least six months between the first and second shot. Visit www.ggdzl.nl/vaccinatiesvoorkinderen for more information.

7. HPV vaccination up until the age of 18

Boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18 who have not yet had the shot can still get the HPV vaccination. They automatically receive an invitation by letter from RIVM for this. In 2023, the Youth Health Care of the GGD Zuid Limburg will vaccinate young people born in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Visit www.ggdzl.nl/vaccinatiesvoorkinderen for more information.

8. Additional HPV campaign in 2023 for those 18 and older

In 2023 an additional HPV campaign has been organised nationwide. Throughout the year, young people aged 19 to 26 will have the opportunity to get an HPV vaccination free of charge. Everyone born between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2003, who has not yet been (fully) vaccinated will receive an invitation. If you are within this age group, you can schedule an appointment at www.hpvafspraak.nl. For more information, visit www.ggdzl.nl/hpv18plus. Or call our HPV information line.

Note! This vaccination will only be offered for free within 2023 the stated age group. Be sure to make your appointment on time.

9. HPV vaccination for those 26 and older

Are you over 26 and would like to be vaccinated against HPV? You can! Contact your general practitioner for this. You will have to pay for the shots yourself.

10. Antibodies to HPV

The HPV vaccination protects against new infections with HPV types 16 and 18, which are the types that most often result in cancer. The vaccine contains particles of HPV that are not harmful to you. You cannot get an HPV infection from it. After vaccination, the body makes antibodies against HPV. When infected with HPV, the antibodies recognize the virus and clear it away. Thus, the virus cannot damage healthy cells. And the chance of getting cancer from HPV becomes much smaller.