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HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine for Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is an injection given to females and males to protect against human papillomavirus infection. HPV is most commonly spread through sexual activity. It can also be spread from a mother to her baby during delivery. The HPV vaccine is most effective if given before sexual activity begins. This allows your body to build almost complete protection against HPV before you have contact with the virus. The HPV vaccine is still effective after sexual activity has begun.

How is the vaccine given?

The HPV vaccine can be given with other vaccines. The vaccine is given in 2 or 3 doses through age 26:

  • The first dose is given at any time.
  • The second dose is given 1 to 2 months after the first dose.
  • The third dose, if needed, is given 6 months after the first dose.

What are reasons I should not get the HPV vaccine, or should wait to get it?

  • You had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of the vaccine.
  • You are pregnant. Your healthcare provider will tell you when you can get the vaccine.
  • You are sick or have a fever. You may need to wait to get the vaccine until symptoms go away.

What are the risks of the HPV vaccine?

You may have pain, redness, or swelling where the shot was given. You may have a fever or headache. You may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have signs of a severe allergic reaction, such as trouble breathing, hives, or wheezing.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a high fever or behavior changes that concern you.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns about the HPV vaccine.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.