Woman places a bandage on a young woman's arm after administering an immunization shot

Getting Ahead of HPV

You may have heard about the Human papillomavirus (HPV), but what exactly is it? HPV is a virus that can often lead to cancers in both men and women. In the United States, it causes 3 percent of all cancers in women and 2 percent of all cancers in men.1 However, there’s a vaccine that has been proven to prevent infection from the types of HPV that cause cancer. While the vaccine cannot treat HPV, it can help to prevent new infections.

When should you get the vaccine?

In August 2019, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated recommendations for HPV vaccination.2 The HPV vaccine is highly recommended for children and young adults as this is when it is most effective, and they are less likely to be exposed to HPV while unvaccinated.




9 to 15

Highly Recommended. Two doses are needed.

16 to 26

Highly Recommended. Three doses are needed.

27 to 45

Maybe. If you’ve never had it before. Ask your provider.


No. It is not recommended.


What else you should know about the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine may cause mild side effects. You may notice pain or redness in the arm where the shot was given. Headaches and fever are also possible. Side effects usually go away in a day or two.

1. National Cancer Institute, “HPV and Cancer,” (accessed Sept. 14, 2019),available at
2. Meites E, Szilagyi PG, Chesson HW, et al., “Human Papillomavirus Vaccination for Adults: Updated Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,” (accessed Sept. 14, 2019), available at

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