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As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children’s health – for today and for the future. Now there is a powerful weapon to prevent several types of cancer in our sons and daughters: the HPV vaccine. All kids who are 11 or 12 years old should get the three-dose series of HPV vaccine to protect against HPV and HPV-related cancers. Take a few minutes to learn more about HPV vaccine and why it might be an important part of your child’s vaccination schedule.

HPV Cervical Cancer blog image

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus spread by intimate skin-to-skin contact. It is so common that nearly all sexually active adults have had at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.  Around 80 million people currently have HPV and 14 million people are newly infected each year. The problem is that while many cases of HPV clear up on their own, some can cause cancer.

The HPV vaccine can protect against several types of HPV that cause cancer.  But it offers the best protection against these cancers when all three doses are administered early. That’s why HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12.  Even though the vast majority of pre-teens won’t be engaging in activities that could spread HPV at such a young age, it’s actually the best time to get the HPV vaccine because a pre-teen’s immune response is better than that of a teenager or young adult. This makes the vaccine more effective down the line.

While it’s best to give the vaccine at age 11-12, even if your child is past that age it’s not too late. In fact, HPV vaccine can be given to women up to 26 years old and in men up to 21, and even up to 26 in some cases – ask your family’s health care provider.

The HPV vaccine is safe. All vaccines used in the United States are required to go through extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Multiple studies conducted both before and after the HPV vaccine became available in 2006 have found absolutely no serious safety concerns for patients who received the HPV vaccine. The most common side effects of HPV vaccine are mild and go away on their own, like pain and redness in the arm where the shot was given.

The HPV vaccine isn’t just safe – it’s also extremely effective. Clinical trials have shown that the HPV vaccine provides close to 100% protection against precancers that can become cancer.  In the four years after the vaccine was made available in 2006, the amount of HPV infections in teen girls decreased by 56%.  The bottom line? The more adolescents who get the HPV vaccine series, the more people will be protected from cancer in the future. Yet only 4 out of 10 girls and 6 out of 10 boys currently get the HPV vaccine. Imagine how many cancers could be prevented if those numbers increased!

The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and reduces your kids’ chances of getting an HPV-related cancer. Find out more – contact your child’s health care provider and start the conversation about HPV vaccine.



Written By:

Immunization Outreach Coordinator in the Bureau of Infectious Disease

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