HPV vaccine: What you need to know

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. This virus can cause cancers of the mouth, throat, anus and genitals and is transmitted through sexual activity. There are more than 30,000 cases of these cancers each year – and most could be prevented with the HPV vaccine!

The HPV vaccine (known as Gardasil 9) is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for both males and females. It routinely is given at 11 or 12 years of age, but it may be given beginning at age 9 through age 26.

Some parents have expressed concern around this vaccine for various reasons. Here is what you need to know about the HPV vaccine:

  • The vaccine is safe, and studies have shown it is extremely effective.
  • The vaccine is given at such a young age because it starts to protect your child long before they are ever exposed.
  • Studies tell us that getting HPV vaccine doesn’t make kids more likely to start having sex.
  • There is no evidence available to suggest that getting HPV vaccine will have an effect on future fertility.

As with all vaccines, there are potential side effects to the HPV vaccine. These include pain or redness in the arm after the injection. Some preteens and teens also can faint after any type of procedure, so it’s a good idea to have them sit in the doctor’s office or waiting room for about 15 minutes after any shot.

Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns. We want the best for you and your child, and we’re always happy to chat with you.

Mary Ann B. Shepard, MD is a pediatrician with The Children’s Clinic. Learn more about The Children’s Clinic or find another Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate pediatrician near your work or home at ghschildrens.org/pediatricians. You also can call 1-844-447-3627 for help connecting with a pediatrician.

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