Girls aren’t the only ones affected by human papillomavirus (HPV), as it is common in both males and females. Every year, more than 9,000 males are affected by cancers caused by HPV infections that don’t go away. HPV can cause cancers of the anus, mouth/throat and penis in males.
Cases of anal cancer and cancers of the mouth/throat are on the rise. In fact, if current trends continue, the annual number of cancers of the mouth/throat attributed to HPV is expected to surpass the annual number of cervical cancers by 2020. Many of the cancers caused by HPV infection could be prevented by HPV vaccination.
HPV vaccination is recommended by doctors and other health experts for boys at ages 11-12. HPV vaccination of boys is also likely to benefit girls by reducing the spread of HPV infection.
HPV vaccine is recommended at ages 11-12 for two reasons:
- HPV vaccine must be given before exposure to virus for it to be effective in preventing cancers and other diseases caused by HPV.
- HPV vaccine produces a high immune response at this age.
If you haven’t already vaccinated your preteens and teens, it's not too late. Ask your child's doctor at their next appointment about getting HPV vaccine. The series is three shots over six months' time. Take advantage of any visit to the doctor—such as an annual health checkup or physicals for sports, camp, or college—to ask the doctor about what shots your preteens and teens need.
HPV vaccine has been studied very carefully and shown to be safe. Nearly 80 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed in the U.S. since 2006, and no serious safety concerns have been linked to HPV vaccination. Common, mild side effects reported include pain in the arm where the shot was given, fever, dizziness and nausea. Some preteens and teens might faint after getting a shot, including HPV vaccine. Preteens and teens should sit or lie down when they get a shot and stay like that for about 15 minutes after the shot. This can help prevent fainting and any injury that could happen while fainting.
Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their doctor or other healthcare professional about Vaccines for Children (VFC). The VFC program provides vaccines at no cost to children younger than 19 years who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian, or Alaska Native. For help in finding a local healthcare professional who participates in the program, parents can call 800-CDC-INFO or go to the Vaccines & Immunizations website.