Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

Cervarix and Gardasil are licensed, safe, and effective for females ages 9 through 26 years. CDC recommends that all 11 or 12 year old girls get the 3 doses (shots) of either brand of HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against most genital warts, as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina and anus. Girls and young women ages 13 through 26 should get HPV vaccine if they have not received any or all doses when they were younger.

Gardasil is also licensed, safe, and effective for males ages 9 through 26 years. CDC recommends Gardasil for all boys aged 11 or 12 years, and for males aged 13 through 21 years, who did not get any or all of the three recommended doses when they were younger. All men may receive the vaccine through age 26, and should speak with their doctor to find out if getting vaccinated is right for them.

The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men (or any man who has sex with men) and men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not get fully vaccinated when they were younger.


Why is HPV vaccine recommended at ages 11 or 12 years?

For the HPV vaccine to work best, it is very important for preteens to get all 3 doses (shots) long before any sexual activity with another person begins. It is possible to be infected with HPV the very first time they have sexual contact with another person. Also, the vaccine produces higher antibody that fights infection when given at this age compared to older ages.

How does getting HPV vaccine at ages 11 or 12 fit with other health recommendations?

Doctors recommend health check-ups for preteens and teens. The first dose of an HPV vaccine should be given to girls and boys aged 11 or 12 years during any visit to the doctor. Three other vaccines are recommended for preteens and teens. During one visit, HPV vaccine can be given safely with these other preteen and teen vaccines. Check-ups during the preteen and teen years are also times when older kids and their parents can talk to their providers about other ways to stay healthy and safe.


What is the recommended schedule (or timing) of the 3 HPV doses (shots)?

3 doses (shots) are recommended over six months. CDC recommends that the second dose be given one to two months after the first, and the third dose be given six months after the first dose.


Are the HPV vaccines safe and effective?

FDA has licensed the vaccines as safe and effective. Both vaccines were tested in thousands of people around the world. These studies showed no serious side effects. Common, mild side effects included pain where the shot was given, fever, headache, and nausea. As of July 2012, approximately 46 million doses of quadrivalent HPV vaccine were distributed in the United States. As with all vaccines, CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of these vaccines very carefully. These vaccine safety studies continue to show that HPV vaccines are safe.


Do people faint after getting HPV vaccines?

People faint for many reasons. Some preteens and teen may faint after any medical procedure, including receiving vaccines. It is possible for falls and injuries to occur after fainting. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes after a vaccination can help prevent fainting and related injuries.


Can HPV vaccines treat HPV infections, cancers, or warts?

HPV vaccines will not treat or get rid of existing HPV infections. Also, HPV vaccines do not treat or cure health problems (like cancer or warts) caused by an HPV infection that occurred before vaccination. It is important for adult women to still get cervical cancer screening even if they have completed the HPV vaccine series. For more information see Cervical Cancer Screening.


How important is it to get HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccines are important tools to prevent cancer and genital warts.


Why aren’t HPV vaccines recommended for people older than 26?

Both vaccines were studied in thousands of people from 9 through 26 years old and found to be safe and effective for these ages. The vaccine is not licensed in the United States for persons over age 26 years, as GARDASIL has not been demonstrated to prevent HPV-related outcomes in a general population of women and men older than 26 years of age.


This information is provided by the CDC.