Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination

Table of Contents   (en español)

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 to 12-year-old boys and girls get two doses of the HPV vaccine to protect against HPV-associated cancers. Vaccination can be started as early as 9 years of age. Anyone who starts the vaccine series from age 9 to 14 years should be given two doses of the HPV vaccine, 6 to 12 months apart. If the two shots are given less than 5 months apart, then that individual will need a third dose of HPV vaccine.

Anyone who starts the vaccination series at age 15 years or older will need three doses of the vaccine to be given over six months.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for young women through the age of 26 years and young men through age 21 years who did not start or complete vaccination when they were younger. If they did not start the series before their 15th birthday, then they will need a total of three doses of vaccine to be given over six months. If the vaccine series gets interrupted, the vaccine series does not need to be restarted.

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. As with all approved vaccines, CDC and the FDA closely monitor the safety and effectiveness of HPV vaccines after they are licensed. 

Like any vaccine or medicine, HPV vaccination can cause side effects. The most common side effects are mild and included pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; dizziness; fainting; fever; headache; and nausea. Fainting after any vaccine, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents. Most  people who get HPV vaccine do not have any serious problems with it.  Scientific research shows the benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.

The HPV vaccine works extremely well.  HPV vaccine was first recommended in the United States in 2006, and by 2014, HPV infections responsible for the majority of HPV cancers and genital warts decreased by 71% in teen girls and 61% among young women.  Decreases in vaccine-type prevalence, genital warts, and cervical dysplasia also have been observed in other countries with HPV vaccination programs.  

Additionally, people who have already been infected with one or more HPV types can still get protection from other HPV types covered by the vaccine.

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

Content Sources: HPV Information for Clinicians Fact Sheet(HPV) Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Information Statement

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