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Addressing Parents' Top Questions about HPV Vaccine

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Recommend the HPV vaccine series the same way you recommend the other adolescent vaccines. Try saying, "Your child is due for vaccinations today to help protect against meningitis, HPV cancers, and pertussis. We'll give those shots at the end of the visit."

Parents may be interested in vaccinating, yet still have questions. Some parents might just need additional information from you, the clinician they trust. Taking the time to answer their questions and address their concerns can help parents to accept a recommendation for HPV vaccination.

Q: Why does my child need the HPV vaccine?

A: "HPV vaccine is important because it prevents cancer. That is why I recommend that your daughter/son be vaccinated today."

Q: What diseases are caused by HPV?

A: "Certain HPV types can cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in females, cancer of the penis in men, and in both females and males, cancers of the anus and the throat. We can help prevent infection with the HPV types that cause these cancers by starting the HPV vaccine series for your child today."

Q: Is my child really at risk for HPV?

A: "HPV is a very common and widespread virus that infects both females and males. We can help protect your child from the cancers and diseases caused by the virus by starting HPV vaccination today."

Q: Why do they need HPV vaccine at such a young age?

A: "HPV vaccination works best at the recommended ages of 11 or 12 years."

Q: I have some concerns about the safety of the vaccine—I keep reading things online that says HPV vaccination isn’t safe. Do you really know if it's safe?

A: "I know there are stories in the media and online about vaccines, and I can see how that could concern you. However, I want you to know that HPV vaccine has been carefully studied for many years by medical and scientific experts. I believe HPV vaccine is very safe. Vaccines, like any medication, can cause side effects. With HPV vaccination this could include pain, swelling, and/or redness where the shot is given, or possibly headache. Sometimes kids faint when they get shots and they could be injured if they fall from fainting. We’ll protect your child by having them stay seated after the shot."

Q: Could HPV vaccine cause my child to have problems with infertility?

A: "There is no data available to suggest that getting HPV vaccine will have an effect on future fertility. However, women who develop cervical cancer could require treatment that would limit their ability to have children."

Q: I'm just worried that my child will perceive this as a green light to have sex.

A: "Numerous research studies have shown that getting the HPV vaccine does not make kids more likely to be sexually active or start having sex at a younger age."

Q: How do you know if the vaccine works?

A: "Ongoing studies are showing that HPV vaccination works very well and has decreased HPV infection, genital warts, and cervical precancers in young people in the years since it has been available."

Q: Why do boys need HPV vaccine?

A: "HPV infection can cause cancers of the penis, anus, and throat in men and it can also cause genital warts. HPV vaccine can help prevent the infection that lead to these diseases."

Q: Would you get HPV vaccine for your kids?

A: "Yes, I have given HPV vaccine to my child (or grandchild, etc) because I believe in the importance of this cancer-preventing vaccine. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, cancer centers, and the CDC, also agree that getting the HPV vaccine is very important for your child."

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