What is the HPV and what is the HPV vaccine?
HPV is the abbreviation for human papillomavirus. There are about 100 types of HPV viruses and some of these types cause cancer. The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention for your child. It is the only vaccine available to prevent six types of gender-specific cancer. The vaccine is given as a shot, in two doses, six months apart at your doctor’s office. Both boys and girls should be vaccinated to protect them from gender-specific cancers including cervical cancer and cancer of the throat, tongue, and tonsils. All six types of cancers that can be prevented with the HPV vaccine are listed on our website CancerUtah.org.
Who should get the vaccine?
The vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 12.
Why preteens? The vaccine is recommended for preteens—specifically between the ages of 9 and 12 so that they are protected before ever being exposed to HPV. If your children are older than 12 they should still be vaccinated. While getting vaccinated as a preteen is recommended, you can get the vaccine up to age 26.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
Yes. Over 100 million doses of HPV vaccines have been given in the United States and the FDA and the CDC have given the HPV vaccine an excellent safety record.
Can the HPV vaccine cause cancer?
No. The HPV vaccine is made from only a single protein from each type of the cancer-causing virus. It can’t cause HPV, and it can’t cause any type of cancer.
Are there side effects?
At the injection site, there can be side effects including redness or tenderness, possibly a low-grade fever or nausea. These are very similar to side effects that can be experienced with other vaccines or medications. It’s important to point out that the long-term protection against cancer far outweighs any potential risk of short-term side effects.
How long does the effectiveness of the vaccine last?
The HPV vaccine has been studied now for more than 10 years and during that time there has been no sign of the vaccine losing any of its effectiveness.
How are we doing at getting all kids vaccinated?
We are getting better, about half of adolescent boys and girls in our state are receiving the HPV vaccine. But, it’s not about rates. It’s about protecting kids from cancer. Parents, you can protect your child from six types of cancer by getting them vaccinated.
Talk with your doctor and visit CancerUtah.org/HP for more information.
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