Women's Health

Benefits of HPV Vaccination: Cancer Prevention



Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause cancer in:

  • Cervix (cervical cancer)

  • Vagina (cancer of the vagina)

  • Vulva (cancer of the vulva)

  • Anus (anal cancer)

  • Penis (penile cancer)

  • Head and neck (oropharyngeal cancer)

There is good news, however!

Given early enough, HPV vaccinations can prevent more than 90% of these cancers.

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

  • Preteens: The HPV vaccine can be started at age 9, but the CDC recommends routine vaccination around age 11 to 12 for all children

  • Unvaccinated adolescents and adults up to 26 years old

  • Some adults up to age 45 after seeing their health care provider

The HPV vaccine works best if given before you get HPV. You can get vaccinated afterwards, but it may not work as well or be as effective because you may already have a form of HPV.

HPV Vaccination Schedule

The HPV vaccine has a 2-dose/3-dose schedule, depending on your age.

2 doses:

  • For those who receive their 1st dose before the age of 15

  • The 2nd dose should take place 6 to 12 months after the 1st dose

3 doses:

  • For anyone who has not received their first dose before the age of 15

  • Dose 2 – 1 to 2 months after the 1st dose

  • Dose 3 to 6 months after the 1st dose

Did you miss a dose? Don’t worry.

There is no maximum time between doses. You can always take the next dose if you miss a dose, but try not to wait too long.

Don’t stop getting screened for cervical cancer

HPV vaccines reduce the risk of getting some cancers, but they don’t eliminate it completely. You can still get HPV after being vaccinated because it does not protect against all types. It is still important to get screened regularly for cervical cancer.

This resource was created with support from Merck.



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