HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen

Why does my child need the HPV vaccine? 
HPV vaccine is important because it protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were 43 million HPV infections in 2018, many people in their late teens and early 20s. There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems, including genital warts and cancers. But there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening. Vaccines protect your child before they are exposed to a disease. That’s why we give the HPV vaccine earlier rather than later, to protect them long before they are ever exposed.

Most people with HPV infection never develop symptoms or health problems. Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections will last longer and can cause certain cancers and other diseases. HPV infection can cause cervical and other cancers, including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat (called oropharyngeal cancer). This can include the base of the tongue and tonsils. Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. Genital warts and cancers result from different types of HPV. There is no way to know who will develop cancer or other health problems from HPV.

Every year in the United States, 36,500 people (including women and men) are estimated to be diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection. Although cervical cancer is the most well-known of the cancers caused by HPV, there are other types of cancer caused by HPV. HPV vaccination could prevent more than 90% of cancers caused by HPV from ever developing. This is an estimated 33,700 cases in the United States every year.

When should my child be vaccinated?Two doses are recommended for most people starting the series before their 15th birthday. It is recommended for routine vaccination at age 11 or 12, but it can be started as early as 9 years of age.

Who else should get the HPV vaccine?HPV vaccine is recommended for:

  • Everyone through age 26 years if not adequately vaccinated when younger. HPV vaccination is given as a series of either two or three doses, depending on age at initial vaccination.
  • Vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. Some adults ages 27 through 45 years might decide to get the HPV vaccine based on discussion with their clinician, if they did not get adequately vaccinated when they were younger. HPV vaccination of people in this age range provides less benefit for several reasons, including that more people in this age range have already been exposed to HPV.
  • For adults ages 27 through 45 years, clinicians can consider discussing HPV vaccination with people who are most likely to benefit. HPV vaccination does not need to be discussed with most adults over age 26 years. See ACIP’s shared clinical decision-making FAQs.
HPV vaccines are preventing cancer-causing infections and precancer

HPV infections and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have dropped since 2006, when HPV vaccines were first used in the United States. Among teen girls, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 88%. Among young adult women, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 81%

Need help paying for HPV Vaccine

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program helps families of eligible children who might not have access to vaccines. The program provides vaccines at no cost to children ages 18 years and younger who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian/Alaska Native. Call the Jackson County Public Health Immunization Clinic to schedule an immunization appointment.

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