Reasons to Get Vaccinated
All 11–12 year old boys and girls need two doses of the HPV vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV infections.
Almost every person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life without HPV vaccination. About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. While most HPV infections will go away on their own, infections that don’t go away can cause certain types of cancer.
HPV can cause cancers of the:
HPV infections and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have dropped significantly since the vaccine has been in use.
HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 86 percent among teen girls. Among vaccinated women, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer dropped by 40 percent.
HPV is estimated to cause nearly 35,000 cases of cancer in men and women every year in the U.S. HPV vaccination can prevent more than 32,000 of these cancers from ever developing by preventing the infections that cause those cancers. That’s the same as the average attendance for a baseball game.
While doctors routinely screen for cervical cancer, there are no recommended cancer screening tests to detect the other five types of cancers caused by HPV. These other types of HPV cancer may not be detected until they cause health problems. HPV vaccination can prevent these cancers from ever developing.
In addition to a yearly flu vaccine, three vaccines are recommended for 11–12 year olds to protect against the infections that can cause meningitis, HPV cancers, and whooping cough. You can take advantage of any visit to your child’s doctor get recommended vaccines for your child, including sports physicals or annual checkups before the school year.
With over 120 million doses distributed in the United States, HPV vaccine has a reassuring safety record that’s backed by over 12 years of monitoring and research. Like any vaccine or medicine, the HPV vaccine can cause side effects.
The most common side effects are mild and include:
- pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
Fainting after any vaccine, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents. To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, adolescents should be seated or lying down during vaccination and remain in that position for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given. The benefits of HPV vaccination far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.