Are you wondering if your child should get the HPV vaccine? You may have heard about HPV, aka human papillomavirus, as it is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Like other vaccines, it works by stimulating the body to mass produce antibodies to fight off the virus. That being said, vaccinating your child against a sexually transmitted disease at this age may seem premature. Learn what government officials say about such preventative measures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the HPV vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls ages 11-12 years. If you’ve missed the ideal age, the vaccine can be administered up to age 26, although the dosing will be different. For the 11-12–year range, there should be two doses administered 6-12 months apart. Children may be vaccinated as early as 9 years old, but consult your pediatrician first.
The HPV vaccine is more than a stop-gap to STDs, though. Human papillomavirus is one of the biggest propagators of many cancers, including cervical, anal, penile, vulvar, vaginal and even throat and oral. If your family has a history of any of these cancers, it’s important to consider vaccinating your child. Not all HPV infections lead to cancer, but the risk makes a strong argument. In fact, the vaccine may prevent up to 90% of cancers specific to HPV.
The only people the CDC recommends not receive the vaccine are those who have an allergy to one of the vaccine’s ingredients, are allergic to yeast, or who have an already suppressed immune system due to illness or treatments such as chemotherapy. Females who are pregnant should also avoid this vaccine.
With its usually mild side effects, it is recommended by the CDC as well as many physicians that all children receive the HPV vaccine. If you have any questions about HPV or its vaccine, talk with your child’s pediatrician for more information or visit the CDC website for a listing of common questions/answers surrounding the vaccine.