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HPV vaccine

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against infection by certain strains of HPV. Human papillomavirus can cause cervical cancer and genital warts.

HPV has also been linked to other kinds of cancers, including vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, mouth, and throat cancers.

Information

HPV is a common virus that is spread through sexual contact. There are several types of HPV. Many types don't cause problems. However, some types of HPV can lead to:

  • Cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer
  • Genital warts
  • Cancer of the penis
  • Cancer of the anus
  • Warts in the throat
  • Cancers of the mouth, tongue, and throat

The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Other, less common types of HPV can also cause cervical cancer.

The vaccine does not treat cervical cancer.

WHO SHOULD GET THIS VACCINE

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls 9 through 14 years old. The vaccine is also recommended for people up to 26 years old who haven't already gotten the vaccine or finished the series of shots. The vaccine can offer protection against HPV-related cancers in any age group. Certain people who may have new sexual contacts in the future and could be exposed to HPV should also consider the vaccine.

HPV vaccine is given as a 2-dose series to boys and girls 9 through 14 years old:

  • First dose: now
  • Second dose: 6 to 12 months after the first dose

The vaccine is given as a 3-dose series to people 15 through 26 years old, and to those who have weakened immune systems:

  • First dose: now
  • Second dose: 1 to 2 months after the first dose
  • Third dose: 6 months after the first dose

Pregnant women should not receive this vaccine. However, there have been no problems found in women who received the vaccine during pregnancy before they knew they were pregnant.

WHAT ELSE TO THINK ABOUT

The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer. Girls and women should still receive regular screening (Pap test) to look for precancerous changes and early signs of cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine does not protect against other infections that can be spread during sexual contact.

Talk to your provider if:

  • You are not sure whether you or your child should receive the HPV vaccine
  • You or your child develops complications or severe symptoms after getting an HPV vaccine
  • You have other questions or concerns about the HPV vaccine

Alternative Names

Vaccine - HPV; Immunization - HPV; Gardasil; HPV2; HPV4; Vaccine to prevent cervical cancer; Genital warts - HPV vaccine; Cervical dysplasia - HPV vaccine; Cervical cancer - HPV vaccine; Cancer of the cervix - HPV vaccine; Abnormal Pap smear - HPV vaccine; Vaccination - HPV vaccine

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. HPV (Human Papillomavirus) VIS. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hpv.html. Updated December 2, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2018.

Immunization Expert Work Group, Committee on Adolescent Health Care. Committee opinion No. 704: human papillomavirus vaccination. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;129(6):e173-e178. PMID: 28346275 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28346275.

Kim DK, Riley LE, Hunter P; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older - United States, 2018. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168(3):210-220. PMID: 29404596 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29404596.

Robinson CL, Romero JR, Kempe A, Pellegrini C, Szilagyi P; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Child and Adolescent Immunization Work Group. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for children and adolescents aged 18 years or younger - United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(5):156-157. PMID: 29420458 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29420458.

Review Date 7/17/2017

Updated by: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Internal review and update 11/06/2018 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.