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.
Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems. Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections will last longer, and can cause certain cancers and other diseases. HPV infection can cause:
cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women;
cancers of the penis in men; and
cancers of the anus and back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx), in both women and men.
Every year in the United States, HPV causes 33,700 cancers in men and women. HPV vaccination can prevent most of the cancers (about 31,200) from ever developing.
Three vaccines are recommended for 11-12 year olds to protect against the infections that can cause meningitis, HPV cancers, and whooping cough.
When should my child be vaccinated?
All youth who are 11 or 12 years old should get two shots of HPV vaccine six to twelve months apart. The vaccine can be given starting at 9 years of age.
If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their doctor or nurse about getting it for them as soon as possible. If your child is older than 14 years, three shots will need to be given over 6 months. Also, three doses are still recommended for people with certain immunocompromising conditions aged 9 through 26 years.