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HPV Vaccine for Preteens and Teens

The Vaccine: HPV

Both Boys and Girls Can Get HPV Vaccine

HPV and Cancer

Group of preteens.

Today, there is a strong weapon to prevent several types of cancer in our kids: the HPV vaccine.

HPV vaccine for boys and girls [219KB, 2 pages]

HPV vaccines protect against Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-related disease.

HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years. If a teenager or young adult (age 13 through 26 years old) has not gotten any or all of the HPV shots when they were younger, they should ask their doctor about getting them now.

Preteens and teens should get all 3 doses of an HPV vaccine long before their first sexual contact, so they have time to develop protection from the vaccine. This is also the age they will have the best immune response from the vaccine.

There are two different HPV vaccines (Cervarix® or Gardasil®) that can be given to girls and young women. Only one HPV vaccine—Gardasil®—can be given to boys and young men. Both Cervarix and Gardasil protects against HPV types that cause most cervical cancer and have been shown to prevent cervical cancer. Gardasil has been studied and shown to protect against cervical, anal, vaginal and vulvar cancers. Gardasil also protects against HPV types that cause most genital warts and has been shown to prevent genital warts.

To learn more about this vaccine, see HPV Vaccine - Questions & Answers.

How Many Shots and When?

HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots over 6 months. The second shot is given 1 or 2 months after the first, and the third shot is given 6 months after the first shot. It is very important to complete all of the shots long before sexual activity begins, in order to be fully protected. To learn about who should and should not get this vaccine, when they should be vaccinated, and the risks and benefits of this vaccine, read the two HPV vaccine information statements.

The Disease: Human Papillomavirus

Human Papillomavirus (pronounced pap-ah-LO-mah-VYE-rus), also known as HPV, is a very common virus that is spread by skin-to-skin contact during any type of sexual activity with another person. HPV infection is common in people in their teens and early 20s.

There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer in women and penile cancer in men. These HPV types can also cause anal cancer and some head and neck cancers in both women and men. Other types of HPV can cause genital warts in both women and men. For more details, see What is HPV?

Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. About 20 million people, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. Each year United States, about 18,000 HPV-associated cancers occur in women and cervical cancer is the most common. CDC reports that every year, about 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 women die from it in the United States.1 About 7,000 HPV-associated cancers occur each year in men in the United States and oropharyngeal cancers are the most common.


Related Pages


  1. Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2007 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2010.


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