HPV Vaccine for Preteens and Teens
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 and mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer, as well as 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 the most infection-fighting cells, or antibodies, during the preteen years. If your teen hasn't gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their doctor 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.
HPV and Cancer
HPV CANCER PREVENTION
Preteens need HPV vaccine now to prevent many of the cancers caused by HPV later.
What cancers does HPV vaccine protect against?
HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer as well as anal cancer in men and women. Every year, over 27,000 women and men are affected by a cancer caused by HPV—that's a new case every 20 minutes. Most of these cancers could be prevented by HPV vaccination at ages 11-12.
Is HPV vaccine safe?
HPV vaccines are safe. Scientific research shows the benefits far outweigh the potential risks. Like all medical products, vaccines can have some side effects. The most common side effects associated with HPV vaccines are mild. The most common side effects are fainting; dizziness; nausea; headache; and pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given. HPV vaccination is typically not associated with serious side effects.
Some preteens and teens might faint after getting any shot, including HPV vaccine. 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.
It is important to tell the doctor or nurse if your child has any severe allergies, including an allergy to latex or yeast. Also, HPV vaccine is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant. HPV vaccination is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.
How can I get help paying for these vaccines?
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian/Alaska Native. Learn more about the VFC program.
Whether you have insurance, or your child is VFC-eligible, some doctors’ offices may also charge a fee to give the vaccines.
Where can I learn more?
For more information about HPV vaccine and the other vaccines for preteens and teens, talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.
For detailed information about HPV vaccine, see HPV Vaccine - Questions & Answers.
To learn about who should and should not get this vaccine, when they should be vaccinated, and the risks and benefits of this vaccine, read the two HPV vaccine information statements.
More about HPV vaccine:
- HPV Vaccine for Boys and Girls Fact Sheet
- HPV Safety Fact Sheet [1 page]
- HPV Vaccine and Boys
- Minority Health and HPV
- Why Your Doctor Says You Should Get All 3 HPV Vaccine Shots [2.8 MB, 1 page] (American Academy of Pediatrics)
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