HPV is short for Human Papillomavirus, a common virus. In the United States each year, there are about 17,500 women and 9,300 men affected by HPV-related cancers. Many of these cancers could be prevented with vaccination. All preteens need HPV vaccination so they can be protected from HPV infections that cause cancer. Teens and young adults who didn’t start or finish the HPV vaccine series also need HPV vaccination.

HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who complete the series and have time to develop an immune response before they begin sexual activity with another person. This is not to say that your preteen is ready to have sex. In fact, it’s just the opposite—it’s important to get your child protected before you or your child have to think about this issue.

The immune response to this vaccine is better in preteens, and this could mean better protection for your child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HPV vaccination be given to girls and boys at ages 11 through 12.

HPV vaccination is a series of shots given over several months. The best way to remember to get your child all of the shots they need is to make an appointment for the remaining shots before you leave the doctor’s office or clinic.

To learn more about HPV and the importance of vaccination, please visit the Maryland Department of Health’s HPV web page and the CDC Vaccines for Your Children web page.

MedStar Family Choice also offers a Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule, which is an easy-to-use table of immunizations from birth to age 18.

Information current as of: