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HPV Vaccine is Recommended for Boys

Mother and young sonCDC recommends that you get your boys and girls vaccinated at 11 or 12 to prevent cancers caused by HPV. Get your boys vaccinated.

Why do I need to protect my son against HPV-related diseases?

A lot of parents know that HPV vaccine protects girls against cervical cancer. But did you know that vaccinating boys can protect them against cancer, too?

HPV is short for Human Papillomavirus, a common virus in both women and men. HPV can cause anal cancer and mouth/throat (oropharyngeal cancer), and cancer of the penis in men. Every year, there are over 9,300 HPV-related cancers in men. Many of these cancers could be prevented by HPV vaccine.

One HPV vaccine—Gardasil—is recommended by doctors and health experts for boys at age 11-12 years old. The vaccine can also help prevent genital warts. HPV vaccination of boys is also likely to benefit girls by reducing the spread of HPV viruses.

Graphic: You can close the door to cancer.

Learn how you can close the door to HPV-related cancers by watching this short video.

Why does my son need this at 11 or 12 years old?

HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who receive all three vaccine doses and have time to develop an immune response before they begin sexual activity with another person. This is not to say that your preteen is ready to have sex. In fact, it's just the opposite—it's important to get your child protected before you or your child ever think about this issue. The immune response to this vaccine is better in preteens, and this could mean better protection for your child.

If you haven't already vaccinated your sons (and daughters!), it's not too late. Ask your child's doctor at any appointment about getting HPV vaccine. The series is 3 shots over six months' time. Take advantage of any visit to the doctor—such as an annual health checkup or physicals for sports, camp, or college—to ask the doctor about what shots your preteens and teens need.

Is HPV vaccine safe?

HPV vaccine has been studied very carefully and shown to be safe. Studies showed no serious safety concerns. Common, mild adverse events reported during these studies include pain in the arm where the shot was given, fever, dizziness and nausea.

Some preteens and teens—both boys and girls—might faint after getting the HPV vaccine or any shot. Preteens and teens should sit or lie down when they get a shot and stay like that for about 15 minutes after the shot. This can help prevent fainting and any injury that could happen while fainting.

How can I get help paying for HPV vaccine?

Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their health care provider about Vaccines for Children (VFC). The VFC program provides vaccines at no cost to uninsured and underinsured children younger than 19 years.  You can find your state's VFC coordinator online. Or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) and ask for the phone number of your state's VFC Coordinator.