Why Is the HPV Vaccine Recommended for Adolescents?

Paul A. Offit, MD, explains the reasoning behind giving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to adolescents.


Why is the HPV vaccine recommended for adolescents?

Paul Offit: Hi, my name's Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center here at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

I think one question people ask is, “Why is it that my adolescent is recommended to get the HPV vaccine?” Because the vaccine is recommended for all boys and all girls who are between 11 and 13 years of age. The reason is — is that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, and you want to be able to protect children before they have sex. And, you know, they're going to start to have sex mid-adolescence, later in adolescence, early adulthood, so it's a prophylactic vaccine, which is to say that it prevents the strains that can cause cancer or anal and genital warts. But it's not a therapeutic vaccine, meaning it doesn't work if you give it after someone's already been infected. So you want to get to people before they get infected, before they start becoming at risk for sexually transmitted disease. And that's why it is that the vaccine is recommended for all boys and girls between 11 and 13 years of age.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center