“I want to do everything I can to make sure my 13 year-old daughter is healthy and protected. But I am confused by the HPV vaccine and whether she should have it.”
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is very common. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. Nearly all sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Most people never know that they have been infected and may give HPV to a partner without knowing it. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year.
There are approximately 40 types of genital HPV. Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections will persist and can cause health problems. Problems can include cervical cancer in women and other kinds of cancer in both men and women. Other types can cause genital warts in both males and females. The HPV vaccine works by preventing the most common types of HPV that cause cervical cancer and genital warts. It is given as a 3-dose vaccine.
For HPV vaccines to be effective, they should be given prior to exposure to HPV. In other words, prior to becoming sexually active. Preteens should receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine series long before they begin any type of sexual activity and are exposed to HPV. Another reason to give it to children ages 11-12 years of age is that the HPV vaccine produces a higher immune response in preteens than it does in older teens and young women.
Protection provided by HPV vaccine should be long lasting. Data from clinical trials and ongoing research show that HPV vaccine lasts in the body for at least 10 years without becoming less effective. There is no evidence, at this time, to suggest that HPV vaccine loses the ability to provide protection over time.
The vaccine has been available for 10 years and the most common side effects are mild: pain and redness in the area of the shot, fever, dizziness, and nausea. Some children may feel faint after getting the vaccine; sitting or lying down for 15 minutes is advised, particularly after the first immunization.
If you have any further questions, please contact us today.
[Info obtained from CDC]