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The Importance of Getting Your Kids Vaccinated for HPV

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by — you guessed it — HPV infections.

Approximately 14 million people are infected with HPV each year. Most people don’t even know they are infected. And HPV can lead to cancer. But you can take a preemptive strike to protect against cervical and many other related cancers. Of course you want to protect your kids. But first, you probably have questions. So ask away!

Is it safe?

Absolutely. The CDC estimates 67 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed. No serious safety concerns are linked to the vaccine.

Won’t the vaccine encourage sexual promiscuity?

No. According to multiple studies (including Bednarcyzk et al., 2012, and Mayhew et al., 2014), receiving the HPV vaccination is not associated with riskier sexual behavior.

Do boys need to get vaccinated, too?

Yes. Many parents think to protect their daughters, but overlook their sons. When HPV infections cause cancer, 64% of the cases in Delaware involve women. But men are at risk, too. In men, HPV can cause cancers of the mouth/throat, anus and penis — and these cancers are on the rise. Finally, when boys get vaccinated and reduce the spread of HPV, it benefits girls (and vice versa).   

Why do kids need this vaccine so young?

Great question. Physicians recommend children get vaccinated for HPV beginning at age 11 or 12. However, the vaccine is approved for children as young as age 9.  It is recommended this early because children at that age have the highest immune response. And, they have to be vaccinated before the possibility of exposure to the aforementioned diseases. If your child is older and hasn’t yet had the HPV vaccine, don’t fret — the vaccine is recommended for “kids” up to 26 years old.

How many doses are needed?

Three. To ensure the vaccine is effective, kids need three doses within six months’ time. So don’t call it quits after one visit. Cancer is relentless — you need to be, too.

How do I schedule a vaccination?

Glad you asked! Talk to your pediatrician to make an appointment.