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HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen

In this video, a family physician explains his decision, as a doctor and a parent, to make sure each of his children received HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12. HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. Ask about it for your child.

Why does my child need HPV vaccine?

HPV vaccine is important because it protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a very common virus; nearly 80 million people—about one in four—are currently infected in the United States. About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer, cancer of the back of the throat (oropharynx), and genital warts in both men and women.

When should my child be vaccinated?

The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine also produces a more robust immune response during the preteen years. Finally, older teens are less likely to get heath check-ups than preteens. If your teen hasn't gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their doctor or nurse about getting it for them as soon as possible.

The HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots. The second shot is given 1 or 2 months after the first shot. Then a third shot is given 6 months after the first shot. The CDC recommends receiving the full HPV vaccine series.

Who else should get the HPV vaccine?

All kids who are 11 or 12 years old should get the three-dose series of HPV vaccine to protect against HPV. Teen boys and girls who did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger should get it now. Young women can get HPV vaccine through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21. The vaccine is also recommended for any man who has sex with men through age 26, and for men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not get HPV vaccine when they were younger.

Read more: HPV Vaccine - Questions & Answers

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