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Should Girls Who Aren't Sexually Active Be Vaccinated Against HPV?

Should Girls Who Aren't Sexually Active Be Vaccinated Against HPV?

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I've heard about the HPV vaccine for teenage girls. But I'm not sure my 14-year-old daughter needs it because she's not sexually active. What should I do?
– Lora

The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine is now recommended for girls and boys both. It will help to protect them from genital warts and HPV-related cancers.

The vaccine has the best chance of protecting against infection if a person gets the series of shots before becoming sexually active. Here's what doctors recommend:

  • For kids and teens ages 9–14, the HPV vaccine is given in 2 shots over a 6- to 12-month period.
  • For teens and young adults (ages 15–26), it's given in 3 shots over a 6-month period.

HPV is very common, affecting more than half of sexually active people at some point in their lives, often in their teens and twenties.

Some strains of HPV that spread through sexual contact can cause cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the penis, anus, vagina, vulva, mouth, and throat. Recent research suggests that HPV might even be linked to cardiovascular disease in women.

While a girl may not be sexually active now, she likely will be at some point in her life. Girls may get HPV in their teenage or young adult years, and then develop cancer years later. So getting the vaccine on time can help protect your daughter's health now and later in life.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: 2020-02-10