Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Schedule

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) starting at age 11 or 12, when the vaccine is most protective. Vaccination also is recommended through age 26 if the person was not vaccinated previously.

A decision on getting the HPV vaccine after age 26 should be made in collaboration with your primary care provider. The HPV vaccine isn’t as effective for those ages 27 through 45, partly because those in this age range are more likely to have been exposed to HPV already.

Vaccination won’t cure an existing HPV infection. But it will protect against strains you don’t have, possibly including the high-risk forms that can cause cancers.

HPV Vaccine Schedule

The CDC recommends the following schedule for HPV vaccination:

Routine Vaccination

Ages 11 to 12 years, but can start at age 9

Catch-up Vaccination

Ages 13 to 26 if not adequately vaccinated

In Consultation With Provider

Some adults ages 27 to 45 if not adequately vaccinated

Two Doses

Ages 9 to 14 need two doses, with the second given six months to a year after the first. There is no maximum interval between doses, so if the schedule is interrupted, no doses need to be repeated.

Three Doses

Those who get their first dose after their 15th birthday will need three doses. For these individuals, the second dose should be given a month or two after the first dose. The third dose should be given six months after the first dose.

HPV Vaccine Questions and Answers

My Child Is Not Sexually Active. Do They Need the Vaccine? 

The vaccine provides protection before the body comes in contact with the virus. The HPV vaccine works best if given to someone before they become sexually active.

Are There Side Effects of the Vaccine?

There are no noted side effects from the HPV vaccine, other than some temporary pain and redness at the injection site.

I am Pregnant. Should I Get Vaccinated?

If you are pregnant you are not eligible for the HPV vaccine.

Will the HPV Vaccine Protect Against Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases? 

The vaccine protects against nine strains of HPV — and HPV only. It does not protect against the more than 20 different types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) out there. Anyone who is sexually active should use condoms to protect against other STIs and should have routine checkups with a health provider.

What If I Can’t Afford the Vaccine?

Some insurance plans don’t cover the HPV vaccine after age 26, so you may be responsible for paying out of pocket. Check with your insurance plan about HPV vaccine cost. If your child is uninsured or the vaccine isn’t covered on their insurance, the Vaccines For Children program may be able to help.

How Do I Get the HPV Vaccine

Talk to your or your child’s primary care provider or OB/GYN. It is best to find and establish a relationship with a trusted medical provider.

Other ways to receive the HPV vaccine:

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