When to Get HPV Vaccine

Protect your child from developing certain types of cancers later in life by giving HPV vaccine at ages 11–12 years.

When Should My Child Get HPV Vaccine?

Dose #1

11–12 years (can start at age 9)

Dose #2

6–12 months after the first dose

Two doses of HPV vaccine are recommended for children at ages 11–12; the vaccine can be given starting at age 9 years.

Children who start the HPV vaccine series on or after their 15th birthday need three doses given over 6 months.

If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible.

medical icon

Vaccines protect your child before they are exposed to an infection. That’s why HPV vaccine is recommended earlier rather than later: to protect your child long before they are ever exposed to the virus.

Teens and young adults should be vaccinated too.

HPV vaccination is also recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if they were not adequately vaccinated already.

HPV vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who were not already vaccinated may decide to get 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 more people have already been exposed to HPV.

HPV vaccination is preventing cancer-causing infections and precancers.

HPV infections and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have dropped significantly since the vaccine has been in use in the United States.

  • Among teen girls, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 86 percent.
  • Among young adult women, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 71 percent.
  • Among vaccinated women, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer has dropped by 40 percent.
badge icon

HPV vaccination is very safe.

Over 12 years of monitoring and research have shown that HPV vaccination is very safe and effective. Like all vaccines, there is ongoing monitoring of HPV vaccine to ensure it is safe and effective.

Teenage couple hugging

Possible side effects

Like any vaccine or medicine, HPV vaccination can have side effects. The most common side effects are mild and include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
  • Dizziness or fainting (fainting after any vaccine, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents)
  • Nausea
  • Headache

The benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh the risk of potential side effects.

alert icon

To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, adolescents should be seated or lying down during vaccination, and remain in that position for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.

Help paying for HPV vaccine

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. The program provides vaccines at no cost to children ages 18 years and younger who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian/Alaska Native. To learn more, see VFC program.

Page last reviewed: October 29, 2020