Ideally, vaccines for HPV should be administered before a child reaches their teen years. Some people are surprised by the recommended age for HPV vaccination, but it’s most effective when given at an early age. Teens and adults can also receive the vaccine, but they need more doses and it may not be as effective when administered later in life.
Recommended HPV Shot Schedule
The CDC recommends that children should get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12. The vaccine for kids this age includes two shots, with the second shot given six to 12 months after the first shot. If two shots are administered less than five months apart, a third dose of the vaccine is required at least four months after receiving the second shot. Although there is no male HPV test available yet, it’s recommended to get the HPV shot for girls and boys alike.
Teens can still get the HPV vaccine if they didn’t receive it at the recommended age. Children ages 15 and up need to receive three doses of the vaccine. The second shot should be administered two months after the first shot, and the third shot should be administered six months after the first shot.
HPV Vaccine Schedule for Adults
Is it too late to get the HPV vaccine if you weren’t vaccinated as a kid? No, it’s not. The CDC HPV vaccine adult recommendations include women through age 26 and men through age 21. In addition, the FDA has approved the use of Gardasil 9 for adults through age 45.
The HPV shot for women and men requires three doses given over the course of six months, with the second shot received two months after the first and the third shot received six months after the first.
Why Early Vaccination is Important
When someone receives all their doses of the HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active, it reduces their risk of getting certain kinds of HPV-related cancers by up to 99%. By recommending the vaccine for kids when they’re still young, the CDC aims to ensure kids are fully vaccinated before they start having sex.
The HPV vaccine cannot protect against any types of the virus you have already been exposed to, so it can’t provide the same level of protection if you’ve already started having sex or engaging in intimate skin-to-skin contact. You may benefit from getting the vaccine as an adult, but it likely won’t be as effective as it would have been if you received it at the recommended age.
- Answering Parents’ Questions about HPV Vaccine: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
- HPV and Men – Fact Sheet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016.
- FDA approves expanded use of Gardasil 9 to include individuals 27 through 45 years old: U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2018.
- Adults: Gardasil 9.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2017.