HPV Vaccine for Pre-teens and Teens
Your Daughter’s Best Chance at Battling Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is highly preventable because a vaccine that prevents the main cause of it — the human papillomavirus (HPV) — is easily available.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with MetroHealth experts, encourage parents to protect their sons and daughters from cancer and other diseases caused by HPV by getting the HPV vaccine.
It is reported that 20 million people, most in their teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. Each year in the United States, about 18,000 HPV-associated cancers occur in women and cervical cancer is the most common.
Also, about 7,000 HPV-associated cancers occur in men and oropharyngeal cancers are the most common. Anal cancer caused by HPV affects both men and women, with more women than men diagnosed each year.
If we protect our boys and girls now through vaccination, we could reduce disease and cancer due to HPV.
This is a good time to consider getting your pre-teen or teen the HPV vaccine. Margaret Stager, MD, Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at The MetroHealth System, answers a few common questions parents may have about the vaccine:
Who should get the HPV vaccine?
The CDC recommends the HPV vaccination for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years. If a teenager or young adult (age 13 through 26 years old) has not gotten any or all of the HPV shots when they were younger, they should ask their doctor about getting them now, even if they are already sexually active.
Why is HPV vaccine recommended at ages 11 or 12 years?
My daughter/son is in no way sexually active at this age.
For the HPV vaccine to be most effective, it is very important for preteens to get the vaccine long before any sexual activity with another person begins. This allows the body to make antibodies which are proteins to fight off a possible HPV infection. It is possible to be infected with HPV the very first time they have sexual contact with another person. Also, the vaccine produces a higher antibody that fights infection when given at this age compared to older ages.
Is the HPV vaccine a series of shots that have to be completed in a certain amount of time?
Yes. It takes 3 shots over 6 months to complete the series. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your child gets all 3 doses.
Are the HPV vaccines safe and effective?
Yes. The FDA has licensed the vaccines as safe and effective. Both vaccines (Cervarix and Gardasil) were safely tested and tracked in thousands of people around the world. Teen and young adult women who received the HPV vaccine showed a much lower rate of cervical cancer and genital warts in comparison to women who did not receive the vaccine.
These studies showed no serious side effects. Common, mild side effects included pain where the shot was given, fever, headache, and nausea. As with all vaccines, the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of these vaccines very carefully.
If you have more questions about the HPV vaccine, talk with your child’s health care provider.
If your pre-teen or teen needs a physician who focuses on adolescent medicine, make an appointment with Dr. Stager at one of the following locations:
MetroHealth Medical Center
Women and Children's Pavilion, First Floor
2500 MetroHealth Drive
Cleveland, OH 44109
Call 216-778-2222 for an appointment at this location.
MetroHealth Beachwood Health Center
3609 Park East Drive, Suite 300, North Building
Beachwood, OH 44122
Call 216-957-9959 for an appointment at this location.