You’ve probably heard of the HPV vaccine. However, despite the broad publicity the vaccine has received, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding who should get it, when and why. In fact, recent research from the CDC suggests that many doctors may be failing to explain the importance of the vaccine to parents.
We thought we’d clear up some of the confusion by sharing six things you need to know about the HPV vaccine.
While the large majority of human papillomavirus infections are low-risk and will naturally go away within two years, some cases can be quite dangerous. A high-risk HPV infection can lead to multiple types of cancer for both sexes, including cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers for women, penile cancer in men, and anal and throat cancer in both.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 14 million people become infected with HPV each year and that at least four out of every five women will have been infected at one point in their life by age 50. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.
The CDC recommends that all children receive the HPV vaccine starting at age 11 or 12. However, older children and young adults who didn’t receive the vaccine when they were younger are still eligible to get vaccinated through age 26 for women and age 21 for men.
Recipients will receive the second shot anytime between one and two months after the first shot, but the third shot isn’t administered until six months after the first shot.
Gardasil targets HPV types 16, 18, 6 and 11. Types 16 and 18 are responsible for an estimated 70 percent of cervical cancers and types 6 and 11 are known to cause up to 90 percent of genital warts.
Receiving the HPV vaccine won’t cause cancer or any other disease related to HPV. The vaccine has also received some criticism from groups claiming being vaccinated at a young age leads children and teens to become more promiscuous; however, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this is true.
If you have questions or concerns about yourself or your children receiving the vaccine, schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor.