Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually
transmitted disease (STD). It can cause genital
warts and changes in the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. It can also
lead to cancer in other areas, such as the penis,
vulva, and throat. Recent research suggests it might be linked to cardiovascular
disease in women.
HPV Immunization Schedule
The vaccine is recommended for girls and boys 11 or 12 years old, and for older
kids who aren't yet vaccinated. If needed, kids can get the vaccine starting at age
The vaccine is given as a series of shots:
Children ages 9–14 get the vaccine in 2 shots over a 6- to 12-month period.
Teens and young adults (ages 15–26) get it in 3 shots over a 6-month period.
Why Is the HPV Vaccine Recommended?
HPV can cause serious problems such as genital warts and some types of cancer.
The vaccine is an important way to prevent infection and the spread of HPV. It works
best when given before someone becomes sexually active.
The HPV vaccine doesn't protect against all types of HPV. So people who are sexually
active should always use condoms.
Girls and women should see their gynecologist
regularly and get pap smears as recommended (usually starting at 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
When to Delay or Avoid HPV Immunization
The vaccine is not recommended if:
Your child is currently sick. But simple colds
or other minor illnesses should not prevent immunization.
Your daughter is pregnant (she can get 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. Check with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophenoribuprofen for pain or
fever, and to find out the right dose.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call the doctor if:
You aren't sure if the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.