Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that has been linked to cancer of the cervix and a host of other cancers.
The HPV vaccine is designed to prevent infection by the HPV-16 and HPV-18 strains of the virus, which are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers, the American Cancer Society says.
The virus also can lead to cancers of the anus, penis, vagina and throat.
Here are the society’s suggestions for who should get the vaccine, and when:
- The shot is best given when a person is age 11 or 12 because it produces the strongest immune response at this age.
- The vaccine also is recommended for unvaccinated females aged 13 to 26, and for unvaccinated males 13 to 21. Males 22 to 26 may also be vaccinated, but the shot is not as effective at these older ages.
- The vaccine is not approved nor recommended after age 26. While the shot is safe, it won’t offer much benefit.