Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination


Table of Contents


What is HPV?

HPV is a virus that is most commonly spread through sexual contact. HPV is so common that nearly all men and women get it at some point in their lives. Most of the time, HPV has no symptoms so people do not know they have it. Additionally, an individual can develop symptoms years after being infected, making it hard to know when they first became infected.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can lead to serious health problems including cancer. Some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women and can also cause other kinds of cancer in both men and women. Other types of HPV can cause genital warts in both males and females.

For additional information, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HPV page.


What HPV vaccines are available in the United States?

Three HPV vaccines have been licensed in the United States: Gardasil®9, Gardasil®, and Cervarix®. Currently, Gardasil®9 is the only one available in the United States.

Gardasil®9 (HPV9) protects against nine types of HPV, including the seven types that cause about 80 percent of cervical cancer. The vaccine is licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both boys and girls ages 9 through 26 years.

Gardasil® (HPV4) works against four HPV types and was licensed by the FDA for both boys and girls ages 9 through 26 years.

Cervarix® (HPV2) protects against only two strains of the virus and was only licensed and approved by the FDA for use in girls ages 9 through 26 years.

HPV vaccines offer the greatest health benefits to individuals who complete the vaccine series before having any type of sexual activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends for preteen boys and girls to get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12 years of age.


Who should get the HPV vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend that all 11 or 12 year old boys and girls get two doses of the HPV vaccine to protect against HPV-associated cancers. The two shots of the HPV vaccine should be six to twelve months apart. Preteens who received their two shots five months or less apart will require a third dose of the HPV vaccine.

Adolescent boys and girls older than 14 years of age and starting the vaccination series will need three doses to be given over six months.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for young women through the age of 26 and young men through age 21. If they did not start the series at 11 or 12 years of age, then they will need three doses to be given over six months.

If you have further questions, please consult your healthcare provider.


Are the HPV vaccines safe and effective?

Yes. The FDA has licensed the vaccines as safe and effective. Both vaccines were tested in thousands of people around the world. These studies showed no serious side effects. Common, mild side effects included pain where the shot was given, fever, headache, and nausea. As with all vaccines, CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of these vaccines very carefully.


Where to get the HPV Vaccine in Texas

  • City or county health department
  • Call your Regional DSHS Field Office
  • Call 2-1-1 Texas
  • Call the DSHS Immunization Unit at: (800) 252-9152
  • For email: please provide your zip code and city
  • Ask your doctor or nurse

The HPV vaccine is available to all uninsured or underinsured males and females between the ages of 9-18 through the Texas Vaccines for Children (TVFC) Program.


Resources & Links


DSHS Vaccine Advisories


ACIP Recommendations


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Links


Immunization Action Coalition Links

Last updated December 14, 2017