By Tenille L. Lawson. PharmD, BCPS
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). HPV is responsible for causing certain types of cancers and genital warts. The CDC recommends vaccination for pre-teens to protect them from HPV before they ever come in contact with the virus.
At what age should children receive the HPV vaccine?
The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for girls and boys aged 11-12. It should be given along with their routine Tdap and meningitis vaccines. Children as young as 9 years old may also receive the vaccine.
Are the HPV vaccines effective?
Yes, the HPV vaccines are very safe and effective. In fact, infections with HPV that cause HPV-related cancers and genital warts are 88 percent lower in teen girls since the vaccine was first used 15 years ago.
Am I giving my child an unnecessary shot by getting the HPV vaccine?
The key thing to remember is that HPV is common, and it can cause harmful diseases that can be prevented, such as cervical cancer. This is especially important in communities of color, since HPV-associated cervical cancer rates are higher in Black and Hispanic women. I thought only women had HPV-related cancers.
Why should I vaccinate my son?
Boys are at risk of HPV related illnesses too, so they should get the HPV vaccine. According to a report at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, HPV led to five times more head and neck cancers in men than in women.
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?
Side effects are generally mild. They include pain or swelling where the shot was given, dizziness and headache. Fainting has occurred and is more common in teens than it is in adults, similar to the effects of other vaccines. Your child may be asked to lie down for 15 minutes after the shot. The HPV vaccine is not recommended for children who have a yeast allergy.
This information is provided for educational purpose only. ALWAYS consult with your child’s medical provider to determine if the HPV vaccine is right for your child. For more information, visit CDC.gov website and search for Human Papillomavirus information for parents. •