Teen & Adolescent Health

You can’t protect them from everything. You can protect them from HPV-related cancers.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus passed from person to person through sexual contact. It can be spread even without intercourse.

HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. More than 40 types of HPV exist that can infect the genital area, mouth and throat of both males and females. Some can cause health problems, including genital warts and cancers. But, there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.

Talk to your child's primary care provider today about vaccinating your child against HPV any time after age 11. Or, request an appointment through MyChart.

Who should get vaccinated?

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls at age 11 or 12, so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine produces a higher immune response in preteens than in older adolescents. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males and females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.

You can get HPV by having oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone who has the virus. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.

Does HPV cause cancer?

HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. In the U.S., one person is diagnosed with HPV-related cancer every 20 minutes. Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV, and 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer.

Nearly 80 million—about one in four—Americans are infected with HPV, with about 14 million becoming newly infected each year.

Gardasil®-9 protects against nine strains of HPV, including the two most common (types 16 and 18) that cause approximately 70 percent of all cervical cancers. It also prevents most genital warts and other HPV-associated cancers in both males and females.

Is it safe and effective?

Yes. The vaccine has been studied in thousands of men and women around the world. In the four years after the vaccine was first recommended in 2006, the amount of HPV infections in teen girls decreased by 56 percent in the U.S. The HPV vaccine offered through Altru is 99 percent effective.

Vaccine Recommendations

The first dose is routinely recommended at 11-12 years old. Vaccination can start at age 9. The second (and final) dose should be administered 6-12 months after the first dose. Teens and young adults who start the series at ages 15-26 will continue to need three doses of HPV vaccine. Adolescents aged 9-14 who have already received two doses less than five months apart will require a third dose. Three doses are also recommended for those with weakened immune systems.

Possible Side Effects
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. Nearly 86 million doses of HPV vaccine were given in the U.S. from June 2006 through September 2015, and there have been no serious safety concerns. Occasional, mild side effects include pain at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea and fainting.

What does it cost?

If you are insured, your insurance should cover the cost of HPV vaccination.

If you are under 18 and you meet one of the following qualifications, you are eligible to receive the vaccine at no cost through the federally funded, state-operated Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. You may qualify if you:

  • Are eligible for Medicaid
  • Are Native American or Alaskan Native
  • Are uninsured or underinsured

Additional Resources