Skip to main content Skip to home page

HPV Prevention & Vaccination

The American Cancer Society recommends that all children get the HPV vaccine between the ages of 9 and 12. Young people in their teens through age 26 who have not been vaccinated should get the HPV vaccine as soon as possible. Those who start the series in their teens or later may require three shots instead of two.

Receiving the HPV vaccine as a child can help prevent several types of cancer later in life.

  • HPV is a common virus and can cause six types of cancer.
  • Prevention is key. While HPV cannot be treated, there is a vaccine that can prevent it.
  • The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and long-lasting.
  • The HPV vaccine is most effective when given to boys and girls between ages 9 and 12.
The Truth about HPV

HPV Vaccine Information for Parents

Why should children get the HPV vaccine?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection can cause six cancers, and while HPV infection can’t be treated, the vaccine can help prevent it. Roughly 8 out of 10 people will get the virus at some point in their lives, even though most infected people don’t know they are infected. HPV infections usually go away on their own without lasting health problems, but we don’t know which infections may cause cancer.

The HPV vaccine can help protect children against:

  • Cancers of the throat, anus, cervix, vagina, and vulva in females
  • Cancers of the throat, anus, and penis in males

The vaccine can also help prevent genital warts.

When should children get the HPV vaccine?

The vaccine, given as a series of shots, works best when given to boys and girls between ages 9 and 12.

Young people age 13 through 26 who have not been vaccinated, or who haven’t received all the required doses, should do so as soon as possible. Vaccination of young adults will not prevent as many cancers as vaccination of teens and younger children.

HPV vaccination is not recommended for those older than 26 years.

Is the HPV vaccine safe? Does it have side effects?

The vaccine is safe. Common side effects are mild and may include: headache, fever, and pain and/or redness in the arm where the shot was given.

Children with an allergy to yeast or with an allergy to any other component of the vaccine that causes anaphylaxis should not receive the HPV vaccine.

Does health insurance cover the cost of vaccination?

Most health insurance covers the vaccine series, although it is recommended you check with your insurance company beforehand to be sure. HPV vaccination is part of the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which covers the cost of the HPV vaccine and also covers the cost of other vaccines up to age 19 for families without insurance.

Prevention is key

  • Learn the facts about the HPV vaccine and how it can help protect against several types of cancer later in life.
  • Schedule an appointment with your child's doctor or request the HPV vaccine at their next well visit.
  • Write down any questions you have about the HPV vaccine to ask your child's doctor.

Learn more about HPV at

Top Back to top