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HPV Vaccine is Recommended for Boys

Mother and son looking at books and talkingHPV vaccine can prevent certain cancers and other diseases in men caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). CDC recommends that you get your boys and girls vaccinated at 11 or 12 to prevent cancers caused by HPV.

Do you know why boys need HPV vaccine too?

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 cancers of the anus, mouth/throat (oropharyngeal cancer), and penis in men. Every year, over 9,000 men are affected by cancers caused by HPV.

Cases of anal cancer and cancers of the mouth/throat are also on the rise. In fact, if current trends continue, the annual number of cancers of the mouth/throat attributed to HPV is expected to surpass the annual number of cervical cancers by 2020.1

Many of the cancers caused by HPV infection could be prevented by HPV vaccine.

One HPV vaccine—Gardasil—is recommended by doctors and health experts for boys at ages 11-12 to prevent infection with HPV that could lead to cancer. HPV vaccine also helps prevent most cases of genital warts. HPV vaccination of boys is also likely to benefit girls by reducing the spread of HPV infection.

Infographic: HPV Cancer Prevention

Check out this infographic to learn more about the importance of HPV vaccination at ages 11-12.

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

HPV vaccine is recommended at ages 11-12 for two reasons:

  1. HPV vaccine produces the highest immune response at this age.
  2. HPV vaccine must be given before exposure for it to be effective in preventing cancers and other diseases caused by HPV. 

If you haven't already vaccinated your sons (and daughters!), it's not too late. Ask your child's doctor at their next appointment about getting HPV vaccine. The series is three 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. Approximately 67 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed in the U.S. since 2006, and no serious safety concerns have been linked to HPV vaccination. Common, mild side effects reported include pain in the arm where the shot was given, fever, dizziness, and nausea.

Some preteens and teen 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 doctor or other healthcare professional about Vaccines for Children (VFC). The VFC program provides vaccines at no cost to children younger than 19 years who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian, or Alaska Native. For help in finding a local healthcare professional who participates in the program, parents can call 800-CDC-INFO or go to the Vaccines & Immunizations website..


  1. Chaturvedi AK, Engels EA, Pfeiffer RM, Hernandez BY, Xiao W, Kim E, Jiang B, Goodman MT, Sibug-Saber M, Cozen W, Liu L, Lynch CF, Wentzensen N, Jordan RC, Altekruse S, Anderson WF, Rosenberg PS, Gillison ML. Human papillomavirus and rising oropharyngeal cancer incidence in the United States. J Clin Oncol. 2011; 29(32):4294-301