Why I Recommend the HPV Vaccine for My 11-12 Year-Old Patients
By Michelle Dalal, MD, FAAP
Reliant Medical Group Pediatrics
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, UMass Memorial Medical Center
HPV vaccine is a safe, effective, cancer preventing vaccine. HPV (human papillomavirus) can lead to a number of diseases ranging from genital warts to cancer in both males and females. The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls at ages 11-12 because children develop a better response to the vaccine at this age and the best time to give the vaccine is before they are exposed to the virus. It is a three shot series most effective when given within a six month period.
HPV is a widespread virus that affects many people during their lifetime. Currently in the United States, it is estimated that about 79 million people are infected with the HPV virus and that approximately 14 million new infections occur each year. Studies show that the HPV vaccine is able to prevent 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts cases in women. This is especially beneficial for women because it reduces the number of lifetime procedures a woman may need if she is diagnosed as having HPV during routine Pap smears. In males, the vaccine protects against 90% of genital warts cases and 80% of anal cancer cases. The vaccine can also prevent the future partner of a boy or girl from contracting HPV. Most people who contract HPV are asymptomatic and will not have symptoms, but a number of these individuals will progress to developing genital warts and cancer.
Many parents are concerned about side effects of the HPV vaccine, but recent studies show that the side effects from HPV vaccine are similar to all other vaccinations. All children should benefit from a cancer-preventing vaccine. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. HPV vaccine is a safe and proven way to prevent genital warts and cancer and can help protect your child’s future. So please talk to your child’s pediatrician during their next visit about scheduling the HPV vaccine if they have not already received it.
A Few Facts on HPV
- Each year, there are an estimated 26,000 HPV-attributable cancers in the United States. About 17,000 occur in women, most of which are cervical cancers, and about 9,000 occur in men, most of which are oropharyngeal cancers.
- The HPV vaccine is more than 92 percent effective for cervical precancers, 100 percent for vaginal, vulvar precancers, 75 percent for anal precancers, and 89 percent for genital warts.
- 30 to 70 percent of cervical pap test abnormalities are vaccine preventable and 90 percent of genital warts are vaccine preventable.
- HPV vaccine has been recommended for the vaccination of girls 11 to 12 years of age since 2006 and for boys 11 to 12 years of age since 2011.
Dr. Michelle Dalal is currently accepting new patients. You can view her full profile here.