Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It can cause
genital warts and changes
in the cervix that can result in cervical cancer. It can also lead to cancer in other
areas, such as the penis,
vulva, and throat. Recent research suggests it may even be linked to cardiovascular
disease in women.
HPV Immunization Schedule
The vaccine is recommended for girls and boys 11 or 12 years old, as well as for
older kids who are unvaccinated. If needed, kids can get the vaccine starting at age
The vaccine is given as a series of shots:
For children ages 9-14, it is given in two shots over a 6- to 12-month period.
For teens and young adults (ages 15–26 in girls and 15–21 in boys),
it's given in three shots over a 6-month period. Young adults who are at higher risk
of getting infected can get it up to age 26.
Why Is the HPV Vaccine Recommended?
Because HPV can cause serious problems such as genital warts and some types of
cancer, a vaccine is an important step in preventing infection and protecting against
the spread of HPV. It works best when given before someone becomes
The HPV vaccine doesn't protect against all types of HPV, so girls and women who
are sexually active should still see their gynecologist
regularly, use condoms, and get
pap smears as recommended by their doctor (usually starting age 21).
Possible Risks of the HPV Vaccine
The most common side effects are mild fever and tenderness, swelling, and redness
at the injection site. Dizziness, fainting, nausea, and vomiting also can follow a
shot. Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare.
When to Delay or Avoid HPV Immunization
The vaccine is not recommended if:
your child is currently sick, although simple colds or other minor illnesses should
not prevent immunization
your child had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
to the first dose of HPV vaccine or has a yeast allergy
your daughter is pregnant (she can receive it after she gives birth)
Caring for Your Child After HPV Immunization
Your child may have a fever, soreness, and some swelling and redness in the area
where the shot was given. For pain and fever, check with your doctor to see if you
can give either acetaminophenoribuprofen,
and follow the directions carefully.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call if you aren't sure if the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
Call if there are problems after the immunization.