Have you heard of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, also known as the cervical cancer shot or by the brand name Gardasil? You may have seen a scary commercial or a flyer at your healthcare provider’s office. Let me explain what the vaccine is and why it is important for your 11-year-old to receive this protection.
HPV is a very common virus. 80% of adults have been exposed to HPV in their lifetime. Some people clear these infections on their own, however others go on to develop warts or even cancer.
26,000 cancers are diagnosed in the U.S each year in relation to an HPV infection. HPV’s connection to cervical cancer is historically relatively well known, but the infection is now more commonly associated with throat or mouth cancer. Several other rare cancers are also linked to HPV. The vaccine is important for both boys and girls to reduce cancer risk.
Australia introduced HPV vaccine earlier than our country and is now on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2028.
The vaccine has been approved for more than 14 years (over 100 million doses given). Throughout this time, recipients were surveilled for side effects and that monitoring continues. No serious side effects have been discovered in almost a decade and a half of observation.
You may think your child is too young for the HPV vaccine. Be assured that studies have proven immunity is long-lasting. To help keep your child healthy, it is important that they are fully vaccinated before any exposure to HPV through intimate contact. We give the HPV vaccine now to protect your child from future infections.
If you have any questions or would like to get the vaccine, please contact your pediatrician’s office today!
By Dr. Ashlee Mickelson