Vaccines are an important part of staying healthy, and the HPV vaccine is no exception. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cervical cancer, which kills about 4,000 women in the United States each year. This blog post will discuss why you should get your HPV vaccine and how it can protect you from getting cervical cancer or other cancers that HPV causes.
HPV is a very common virus. Most of the time, you won’t even know it’s there. In 90% of cases , your body’s immune system will clear the infection naturally within two years of infection . But, sometimes, HPV can hang around and cause cell damage over time which could lead to cancer.
The first HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil was approved by the FDA in 2006 and a second one called Cervarix was approved later that year. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls 11 or 12 years old with two more doses given over 6 months. Why so early? About 75% of HPV infections happen in late adolescence and young adulthood. Even if your child is not having sex yet, they will eventually become sexually active and the vaccine provides the best protection against HPV when given before sexual activity starts.
Gardasil is also approved for use in boys between 9-26 years old to help prevent genital warts and anal cancer caused by certain HPV types. Men who have sex with men (MSM) may also benefit from vaccination because MSM are at increased risk of anal cancer, regardless of HIV status. However, HPV vaccines are not recommended for use in children younger than 9 years old or adults 27 years old and older .
Safety is the number one concern when developing a vaccine, and HPV vaccines have been closely monitored in clinical trials. If any scary side effects show up, we’ll definitely let you know! So far, the benefits of HPV vaccine greatly outweigh its risks .
The HPV vaccine is recommended for everyone 10 to 26 years old because it works best when given before sexual activity begins. The immune response that it triggers provides the best protection to those who have not been exposed to HPV. It is very effective at protecting against cancers caused by two strains of HPV, types 16 and 18. But it also protects against other strains that can cause cancer including 6 and 11. Some of these strains cause 90% of genital warts, so the vaccine is highly effective at preventing this condition too.
Since HPV vaccines can prevent HPV infections, they also help lower your risk for getting cervical cancer or other cancers caused by HPV . It’s estimated that in women who get all three doses of HPV vaccine, about 27 cases of cancer caused by HPV would be prevented each year. That’s not 27 people who will definitely get cancer; that’s 27 cases, or about 22 women and 5 men .
Other benefits include an increase in warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11 falling by 65% to 84% in girls after the vaccine was introduced. Another study showed a decrease in HPV infections by 40% to 50% among teen girls. We will continue to monitor this vaccine closely and keep informing you of news that impacts your child’s health.