If you’ve been wondering whether your child should get the HPV vaccine, we’re here to shed some light on the subject. Just so you know where we stand on the issue, we firmly believe that preteen and teenage girls and boys should get this vaccine. Why? There are very few cancers that researchers have discovered a vaccine for, and those caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) fall within that category. A recent, very informative blog by Glenn E. Kaplan, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, explains why getting this vaccine is so important.
HPV is a very common virus, passed from one person to another during skin-to-skin sexual contact, including vaginal, oral and anal sex. It is most common in people in their late teens and early 20s. Almost all sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, although most will never even know they have it. In the United States alone, nearly 80 million people—about 1 in 4—are currently infected with HPV.
Why is HPV such a big deal? Because HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women; penile cancer in men; and anal cancer, cancer of the back of the throat (oropharynx), and genital warts in both men and women. Many of these cancers (which in some cases are fatal) could be prevented with vaccination.
The HPV vaccine provides nearly 100% protection from four types of HPV infection
If all three doses of the vaccine are taken at the correct intervals and if they are given before a person contracts HPV, the vaccine provides almost 100% protection from HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18.
At what age should a teen be vaccinated?
The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls aged 11 or 12 so that they are protected before they are ever exposed to the virus by becoming sexually active (the vaccine increases the immune response especially during the preteen years). If not given while your child is a preteen, the next best option is during the early teen years (13-15).
The HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots:
- Injection #1
- Injection #2—given 2 months after the 1st shot
- Injection #3—given 4 months after the 2nd shot
The CDC strongly recommends that patients take the full HPV vaccine series to receive full effectiveness and protection against HPV infection.
The HPV vaccine is proven to be safe
The HPV vaccination has been studied very carefully and continues to be monitored by CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For more information,please read 3 articles from the CDC:
- HPV Vaccines for Boys and Girls
- CDC Feature: Are your kids protected from HPV-related cancers?
- Frequently Asked Questions about HPV Vaccines
For more information about the HPV vaccine, please contact us
If you would like to know more about HPV infection and the vaccine that can prevent it, please contact one of the pediatricians at our Westchester Health Pediatrics group.
To read Dr. Kaplan’s blog in full, click here.