If you’re gearing up to get your kids their back-to-school check-ups, don’t forget the HPV vaccine, which prevents sexually transmitted infection and several different cancers in both girls and boys. A heavy topic to consider for your pre-teen but Consumer Reports says that is exactly the age to be thinking about it.
About 79-million Americans are infected with HPV, and an estimated 14-million new HPV infections occur every year with half of those in people between 15 and 24 years old. HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection, in both males and females. It can cause genital warts and several different types of cancer including cervical cancer and cancer of the mouth and throat.
The good news is that studies have found that the FDA-approved vaccine can be nearly 100 percent effective. Yet adoption has been extremely low, while the rate of some of the associated cancers remains high which has medical experts at Consumer Reports, concerned.
There are very few side effects. If parents can get on board and start vaccinating their kids, HPV can probably be eradicated. Given as a series of 3 injections, ideally over 6 months, the vaccine is most effective when it is given before any possible exposure to the human papilloma virus, which means before kids are sexually active.
Parents may question why their 11-year- old needs to be vaccinated, but concerns about it encouraging sexual promiscuity are unfounded. It is an important conversation for parents and doctors to have.
While it’s best to get the vaccine as a pre-teen, the Centers for Disease Control says it may be given through age 26. The CDC also says protection from the vaccine lasts at least 8 to 10 years and possibly longer. The effectiveness is being monitored to determine if a booster is needed.