A Vaccine Against Cancer

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The Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is associated with several types of cancers in both men and women. In fact, it’s estimated to be responsible for a staggering 5% of all cancers worldwide.

The HPV vaccine (given as a three-dose series to both girls and boys, ideally between the ages of 11 and 12) helps protect us from the worst types of cancer-causing HPV. So, why do many parents wait to vaccinate, or refuse this vaccine for their kids? Are we just not as educated about the vaccine as we should be? Are we confused about who should get it? Below are a few common misconceptions about the HPV vaccine, and what you need to know.

My child does not need the HPV vaccine, because he/she is not yet sexually active and/or I don’t want to encourage that behavior.

As hard as it is to think about, our children may be exposed to HPV before they are truly “sexually active.” HPV spreads easily through skin to skin contact, so even if they are not engaging in the definition of sexual intercourse, teens may be exposed to the virus simply by being in “close contact” with one another. It is important to vaccinate our kids early, allowing their bodies to develop an immune response before they even think about engaging in sexual activity.

My child does not need the vaccination because he’s a boy.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys too! It not only reduces their risk of contracting and spreading HPV in the future, it also reduces their risk of developing certain cancers. It’s a win-win for everyone, and a no-brainer in my opinion.

 My doctor or my child’s school did not require the vaccine.

In many cases, the HPV vaccine is not a “required vaccine” in our school districts, even though it is included in the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule. But even though it isn’t required, getting the vaccine is still important. This is where we, as parents, must become advocates for our child’s health and future. Vaccinating them is in their best interest, and protects them from a host of complications that can develop from an HPV infection.

I can tell you, as a mom, that my daughter will certainly be getting the HPV vaccine as a preteen. If I can reduce her risk of cancer, I don’t have to think twice about it. I received the series of shots when I was 25, and Stella will be receiving them as soon as she is able. I hope your child will, too.

If you’re interested in learning more about HPV, check out the following resources available on The Immunization Partnership’s website:

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