Vaccines (Shots)

Key points

The HPV vaccine can prevent several kinds of cancer, and the hepatitis B vaccine can help prevent liver cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine

Photo of a doctor giving an HPV vaccine to a girl
The HPV vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer.

Some cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted infection. The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause these cancers.

  • HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12, but can be given starting at age 9.
  • HPV vaccine also is recommended for everyone through 26, if they are not vaccinated already.
  • HPV vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than 26. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit, as people are more likely to have been exposed to HPV.

HPV vaccination prevents new HPV infections, but does not treat existing infections or diseases. This is why the HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV.

The HPV vaccine does not substitute for routine cervical cancer screening tests (Pap and HPV tests), according to recommended screening guidelines.

HPV Vaccine: A Pediatrician’s Recommendation

Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu explains why she recommends the HPV vaccine in this video.

Hepatitis B vaccine

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It ranges in severity from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term (chronic) illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is available for all age groups to prevent HBV infection. CDC recommends hepatitis B testing for all adults once in their lifetime. Some people should be tested more than once.