The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that infects roughly eight in 10 people during their lifetime. While most infections go away on their own, they can sometimes cause serious health problems, including cancer.
Research has shown the HPV vaccine is safe and effective in preventing HPV infections among those who have received the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that out of the 35,900 cases of cancer caused by HPV every year, the HPV vaccine could prevent more than 90% of those cancers from ever developing. The vaccine prevents against cervical cancer in women, genital warts in both men and women, as well as oral cancers.
Learn who should get this vaccine, if it is safe and answers to other concerns parents might have.
Who should get the HPV vaccine and at what age?
The CDC recommends that all children receive the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12 years. The vaccine is administered in two doses. The second booster shot is given 6-12 months after the initial vaccine.
It's important for both boys and girls to get the vaccine. The HPV vaccine helps prevent cancers that affect both genders. If your teenager has not received the HPV vaccine yet, they can still do so. Talk to their pediatrician for more details.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
The HPV vaccination has shown to be safe and effective. The most common side effects are mild and resolve quickly. According to the CDC, possible side effects of the HPV vaccine include:
- Pain, redness or swelling at the injection sites
- Headache or feeling fatigue
- Muscle or joint pain
What else should parents know about the HPV vaccine?
Parents may want to know why their young child should receive a vaccine for an infection that is sexually transmitted. This is to make sure children are protected from potentially serious health issues before they are even at risk of contracting HPV. There has been no evidence that getting this vaccine encourages sexual activity.
Because of the HPV vaccine, infections that cause most HPV cancers have dropped significantly. Learn more about the HPV vaccine and why it's important to get vaccinated by visiting the CDC website.
If you have any questions about the HPV vaccine, talk to your child's pediatrician. Learn more about the importance of vaccines and find a recommended immunization schedule for your child.