Should my child get the HPV vaccine?
January 09, 2019
It’s no secret that vaccines are often in question by parents, especially those newer to the market like the Human Pamplona Virus (HPV) vaccine. But, with a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI), keeping a child’s long-term sexual health in mind, parents need to be prepared to have the discussion and consider the vaccine for their pre-teen children.
At a child’s annual well-child visit, around the ages of 11 to 12-years-old, the HPV vaccine is strongly recommended. As a two-dose series, separated by six to 12 months, the HPV vaccine is the only vaccine that prevents cancer. If your child receives the initial immunization later, at age 15, it is a three-dose series. In the U.S., about 12,000 women get cervical cancer every year, and about 4000 women die from it. For men, the rate of HPV associated throat cancers will exceed this number by 2025. “In my practice, I talk with a lot of parents about the HPV vaccine, and there is definite resistance,” said Brad Olson, M.D., medical director Randall Children’s Pediatric Care. “But, it’s extremely safe, doesn’t cause infertility, and millions of vaccines have been administered to children and teens.”
The vaccine works to prevent the viral infection that leads to cervical cancer. However, there is less benefit to the vaccine after a child has become sexually active. Once the HPV viral infection is contracted, the vaccine won’t work, placing your child at a higher risk of contracting the HPV infection. “The way I typically explain the benefit of the HPV vaccine is that it prevents genital warts, which are caused by HPV. This same virus is what also causes cervical and throat cancer,” said Olson. “With 14 million Americans, including teens, getting infected every year, most infections will go away on their own and not cause serious problems. But, it’s those that don’t, causing thousands of women and some men to get cancer and other diseases from HPV.”
Not knowing what the future may hold for our children, making sure they receive the HPV vaccine is one sure way we can protect them from an incurable infection or worse.
Click here for more information on HPV and kids.