The HPV vaccine is a chance to prevent cancer.
What is HPV?
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are very common viruses; nearly 80% of people in the U.S. will get an HPV infection in their lifetime. HPV can be passed to others even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems. Most HPV infections go away by themselves within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections will last longer, and can cause certain cancers and other diseases.
HPV can cause a variety of cancers of the mouth and throat, cervix and genital organs in both males and females. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 26,000 people in the United States develop HPV-related cancers each year.
Who needs the HPV vaccine?
HPV vaccination is recommended by the CDC, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.
The HPV vaccine can be given at the same time as the vaccines required for entering 7th grade in Maryland, Tdap and meningitis.
HPV is recommended for boys and girls ages 11 through 12 for several reasons. Young adults need the HPV vaccine before they are exposed to HPV. Preteens make more antibodies in response to the shot, which may lead to a higher level of protection. Because of this response, children ages 9-14 only need two doses of the HPV vaccine, at least 6 months apart.
Teens and young adults who start the series at age 15 and older need three doses of HPV vaccine. Also, three doses are still recommended for people with certain immunocompromising conditions aged 9 through 26 years.
HPV vaccine is recommended for young women through age 26, and young men through age 21. HPV vaccine is also recommended for certain young men through age 26.
Are HPV vaccines safe and effective?
The vaccine is safe and effective, and studies show it offers long lasting protection against several common cancers caused by the HPV virus. It continues to be monitored by CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). No serious safety concerns have been linked to HPV vaccination.
Many people who get the HPV vaccine have no side effects at all. Some people report having very mild side effects, like a sore arm from the shot. The most common side effects are usually mild.
Common Side Effects of HPV Vaccine:
- Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
- Headache or feeling tired
- Muscle or joint pain
The HPV vaccine is a chance to prevent cancer. Talk to your doctor or your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine.
For more information:
Are Your Kids Protected from Cancer Caused by HPV? – from the American Academy of Pediatrics
HPV Vaccine FAQs – from the American Academy of Pediatrics
HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen – from the CDC