Vaccinating Boys and Girls
Protect your child from developing certain types of cancers later in life with the HPV vaccine at ages 11-12.
When Should My Child Get the HPV Vaccine?
6-12 months after the first dose
Two doses of the HPV vaccine are recommended for all boys and girls at ages 11-12; the vaccine can be given as early as age 9. If you wait until they’re older, they may need three doses instead of two.
Children who start the vaccine series on or after their 15th birthday need three shots given over 6 months. If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to his/her doctor about getting it as soon as possible.
Vaccines protect your child before they are exposed to a disease. That’s why the 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 recommended through age 26 for women, and through age 21 for men, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.
HPV vaccination is also recommended for the following people through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger:
- Young men who have sex with men
- Young adults who are transgender
- Young adults with weakened immune systems
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.
- Among teen girls, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 71 percent.
- Among young adult women, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 61 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.
HPV vaccination is very safe.
Over 10 years of monitoring and research have shown that the HPV vaccine is very safe and effective. Like all vaccines, there is ongoing monitoring of the HPV vaccine to ensure it is safe and effective.
Possible side effects
Like any vaccine or medicine, HPV vaccination can cause 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)
The benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.
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 the 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.