The HPV vaccine prevents cancer

HPV vaccination is cancer prevention

Reviewed by Debbie Saslow, Ph.D.

Infographic HPV vaccination is cancer prevention.  Click on the image to open the PDF

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

  • Cervix (cervical cancer)

  • Vagina (vaginal cancer)

  • Vulva (vulvar cancer)

  • Anus (anal cancer)

  • Penis (cancer of the penis)

  • Head and neck (oropharyngeal cancer)

There is good news, though!

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

Who should get the HPV vaccine?

  • Pre-adolescents: HPV vaccine can be started at age 9, but the CDC recommends routine vaccination between ages 11 and 12 for all children

  • Unvaccinated adolescents and adults up to 26 years of age

  • Some adults up to 45 years old after consulting their doctor

The HPV vaccine works best when given before you get HPV. You can get the vaccine later, but it may not work as well or be as effective because you may already have some 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 the first dose before the age of 15

  • The second dose should be 6-12 months after the first 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 first dose

  • Dose 3 – 6 months after first dose

Missed a dose? Don’t worry.

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

Don’t stop getting cervical cancer screening

HPV vaccines reduce the risk of getting some types of cancer, but they don’t eliminate it completely. You can still get HPV after you’ve been vaccinated as it doesn’t protect against all types. It is still important to get screened for cervical cancer regularly.

This resource was created with support from Merck.

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