Everything You Need to Know About the HPV Vaccine
Here are some common questions parents and caregivers have when it comes to the HPV vaccine.
What is HPV?
There are a few types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Some types cause warts on the skin, others effect the genital or anal areas and some types can cause cervical cancer. The two most common types that cause cancer are type 6 and 11.
How Common is HPV?
Twenty million Americans are currently infected with HPV and nearly six million Americans are infected every year. Nearly half of all new infections are diagnosed in girls and young women between 15-24 years old. HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. It’s common for someone infected with HPV to not know it. The best way to avoid contracting HPV is through abstinence.
What is the link between HPV and Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer has only one cause, and that is HPV. Oftentimes, cervical cancer does not occur until twenty years after the initial infection. If given the HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active, the likelihood of contracting HPV and in case, cervical cancer, is reduced nearly 100%.
Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?
Children between the ages of 9-12 are recommended to receive the HPV vaccine. It is given as two shots, spaced 6-12 months apart, if the vaccine is received before the age of 15. For those that receive it after the age of 15, three doses are recommended. Getting the vaccine for your children before they become sexually active is imperative.
Is the HPV Vaccine Safe?
Yes, the HPV vaccine, also known as GARDASIL®, is safe. It is made using surface protein from the virus, therefore it cannot cause HPV or cervical cancer. Some symptoms you may see include redness or tenderness at the site of the infection or a low-grade fever. The vaccine will last a lifetime and help prevent cancer.
If you have questions about the HPV vaccine for your child, contact Children’s Medical Center.
We are here to answer any questions you may have and help guide your decision-making when it comes to the HPV vaccine for your adolescent child. If you need assistance or recommendations in how to communicate with your child on how HPV can be contracted, we can offer ways to foster healthy conversations.