Answering Parents’ Questions about HPV Vaccination

Portrait of male doctor talking to family while standing in waiting room at hospital, all wearing masks.

Most parents will accept HPV vaccination when you effectively recommend the vaccine and address their questions.

Recommend HPV vaccination in the same way and on the same day you recommend other vaccines for adolescents.

You can say, “Now that your son is 11, he is due for vaccinations today to help protect him from meningitis, HPV cancers, and whooping cough.  Do you have any questions?”

Remind parents of the follow-up shots their child will need and ask them to make appointments before they leave.

Why does my child need HPV vaccination?
  • HPV vaccination is important because it prevents infections that can cause cancer. That is why we need to start the shot series today.
What diseases are caused by HPV?
  • Some HPV infections can cause cancer—like cancer of the cervix, anus, penis, or in the back of the throat—but we can protect your child from getting these cancers in the future with HPV vaccination by starting the vaccine series today.
How do you know HPV vaccination works?
  • Studies continue to prove HPV vaccination works extremely well, decreasing the number of infections and HPV precancers in people who have been vaccinated.
Is my child really at risk for HPV infection?
  • HPV is a very common infection in teens and adults, including women and men. Nearly everyone will get HPV at some point in their lives. Starting the vaccination series today will help protect your child from the cancers and diseases caused by HPV later in their lives.
Why do they need HPV vaccination at such a young age?

Vaccines protect your child before they are exposed to an infection. That’s why we give HPV vaccination earlier rather than later, to protect them long before they are ever exposed.

Also, if your child gets the shot now (before they turn 15), they will only need two doses. If you wait until your child is older, they will end up needing three shots.

I’m worried my child will think that getting this vaccine makes it OK to have sex.

Studies tell us that getting vaccinated doesn’t make kids more likely to start having sex. I made sure my child (or grandchild, etc.) got HPV vaccine, and I recommend we give your child their first HPV shot today.

Why do boys need HPV vaccination?
  • HPV vaccination can prevent future infections that can lead to cancers of the penis, anus, and back of the throat in men.
Is HPV vaccination safe?
  • Yes, HPV vaccination is very safe. Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects, including pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given. That’s normal for HPV vaccine too and should go away in a day or two. Sometimes kids faint after they get shots and they could be injured if they fall from fainting. We’ll have your child stay seated for a few minutes after the shot to help protect them.
Would you get HPV vaccine for your kids?
  • Yes, my children (or grandchildren) got HPV vaccine when they were 11, because I wanted to help protect them from cancer in the future.
Can HPV vaccine cause infertility in my child?
  • HPV vaccine does not cause fertility problems. However, people who develop a cancer caused by HPV will need treatment that can sometimes limit their ability to have children, such as a hysterectomy (for women), chemotherapy, or radiation. Treatment for cervical precancer could also put women at risk for problems with their cervix, which can sometimes cause preterm delivery.
Talking to Parents about Vaccines Handout
Talk to Parents about HPV Vaccine
Use this printable handout to train staff on how to address parents’ questions about vaccines for children and adolescents.
#HowIRecommend Videos
Videos about recommending HPV cancer prevention.
Watch CDC’s video series to get advice from your peers on how to address parents’ questions.