The HPV vaccine (shots) can help protect people from serious diseases, like cancer. HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It can cause:
- Cervical cancer
- Cancer inside the vagina (vaginal cancer) or outside the vagina (vulvar cancer)
- Cancer of the penis
- Cancer of the anus (anal cancer)
- Cancer of the mouth or throat
- Warts in the genital area
The HPV vaccine can prevent many of these cancers and most cases of genital warts. The HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots over 6 months.
Doctors recommend that both girls and boys get the HPV shots at age 11 or 12. The vaccine will work better if your child gets it at the recommended time than if he gets it as an older teen.
The vaccine is very safe. Side effects may include a sore arm. Some pre-teens may faint from any shot, so it’s a good idea to have your child sit for 15 minutes afterwards.
The HPV vaccine is covered under the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your insurance plan, your daughter or son may be able to get the vaccine at no cost to you. Talk to your insurance provider.
Use these questions to talk with your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine.
What do I ask the doctor?
It helps to have questions for the doctor or nurse written down ahead of time. Print this list of questions, and take it to your child’s next appointment.
- My child is younger than age 11. Is it too early to get the HPV vaccine?
- My child is older than age 12. Is it too late to get the HPV vaccine?
- How many HPV shots does my child need?
- How much time does my child need to wait between the shots?
- What are the possible side effects of the HPV vaccine?
- If my daughter gets the HPV vaccine, will she still need to get Pap tests to check for cervical cancer when she’s older?
- What should I tell my child about HPV?
- I thought the HPV vaccine was only for girls. Why does my son need the shots?