Daily I am asked, “Should I give my child the HPV vaccine?” Yes. Giving your child the HPV vaccine is the best way to prevent several types of cancer. HPV is the Human Papilloma Virus, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV is passed during skin to skin contact. Over 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV.
There are many types of HPV. Some types of HPV will clear on their own, while other types of HPV can cause cancers, particularly of the mouth, throat, and reproductive areas in men and women. It is possible to have HPV and not know it, as it can be asymptomatic (without symptoms).
Why should I be concerned about this very adult infection in my young child? Look, I know it’s not comfortable to talk about cancer and sexually transmitted infections around our children. What many parents fail to see is that it’s not about sex, it’s about a future risk of cancer. Each year 14 million new people become infected with HPV. Every year 12,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 will die from it (even with treatment).
Over 30,000 people in the U.S. are affected by a cancer caused by HPV. These cancers are preventable, but we must act before our children are exposed! The HPV vaccine gives us a chance to protect our children from these specific cancers BEFORE they are exposed to HPV.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that 11 to 12-year-old children get two doses of the HPV vaccine 6 to 12 months apart. Both boys and girls should be protected. Teens who start the series after age 15 will need three doses of HPV.
Studies have shown that in children under age 15, two doses were as effective as three doses in the older teens. HPV vaccination provides safe, effective and lasting protection against the types of HPV infections that most commonly cause cancer. Gardisil-9 (9vHPV) protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 45, 52 and 58.
The HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006 and works extremely well, giving nearly 100 percent protection. Since the introduction of the vaccine, there has been a significant drop (64 percent reduction) in the numbers of patients infected with HPV. Over 10 years of data shows that the HPV vaccine provides long-lasting immunity.
Side effects from the vaccine tend to be mild and include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Fever, headache, nausea, and muscle or joint pain is experienced by some patients.
Some teens may feel faint after any injection, so it is recommended that they sit or lie down for 15 minutes after getting an injection. People who are allergic to any component of a vaccine should not receive that vaccine. Although rare, severe anaphylactic allergic reactions may occur with a vaccine.
The United States has the safest vaccine testing requirements in history. Years of extensive safety testing are required prior to approval of a vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There were no serious safety concerns identified in the clinical trials which involved more than 29,000 people for Gardasil and more than 15,000 people for Gardasil-9. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective and protective.
Here are three things every parent should know to prevent cancer in their child:
• The HPV vaccine is the best way to prevent several types of cancers.
• The HPV vaccine is recommended at age 11 or 12 with a booster dose in 6 to 12 months.
• The HPV vaccine is reducing HPV infection.
You may ask, did I give the HPV vaccine to my child? I did. This is the first time in history that we can prevent some types of cancer. The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention for our children. Why wouldn’t we want to protect not only our children from cancer, but our future grandchildren from losing their parents too soon? Call today to get your child the HPV vaccine. Protect your child from cancers caused by HPV.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/teens or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).
Melanie J. Wilhelm, DNP, CPNP, is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Norfolk, as well as an assistant professor at Old Dominion University. Her book, Raising Today’s Baby: Second Edition, is available on Amazon.com. Read more at RaisingTodaysChild.com. Email Dr. Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RaisingTodaysChild and twitter at www.twitter.com/Rzn2dayschild