There are a lot of conflicting messages out there about the HPV vaccination. It’s time to set the record straight and get the facts about protecting your child from HPV-related cancers.
What does the vaccine prevent?
The HPV vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus or HPV, which can lead to cancer. About 79 million Americans have HPV, and 14 million people per year become infected.
If my child gets HPV, they could get cancer?
HPV can cause cancer in men and women including anal, vulvar, penile, oral, and vaginal cancers. Women are most likely to get cervical cancer, while men are most likely to be diagnosed cancer in the back of the throat. No one wants to hear they have cancer and the HPV vaccine can prevent more than 90 percent of HPV-related cancers.1
When should my child get vaccinated?
You should vaccinate your child for HPV between nine and 13 years old because this is when they will have the best immune response. During these years, preteens and teens will also get the meningococcal and tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (Tdap) vaccines to make sure they are protected before they are exposed to these viruses.2
But is the HPV vaccine safe?
In the last 10 years, the HPV vaccine has been given more than 100 million times. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely watch for negative side effects and reactions to the vaccine, and publically report any safety concerns. To date, the vaccine is found to be safe and effective.
As with any vaccine, there are possible side effects like pain at the injection site, fever, dizziness, headache, or muscle pain. These side effects are associated with almost any adolescent vaccine.
I thought the HPV vaccine was only for girls.
Anyone can get and transmit HPV so it’s important to vaccinate boys and girls to protect them from cancer.
Why should I vaccinate my child now if they won’t be exposed to the virus for many years?
The effectiveness of the HPV vaccine is closely studied. Children between the ages of nine and 13 have a better immune response to the vaccine and are better protected against future infection. The vaccine has only been available for 10 years, but studies show that the children who were vaccinated 10 years ago are still highly protected against the virus today.3
Children at this age have a better immune response to the vaccine and better protects them against future infection.