Editor’s Note: I acquired HPV when I lost my virginity at 15 years old. I used a condom and asked all the right questions – however, I was not told the truth.
At the time, this disease was not talked about and I didn’t understand how common it was. I was convinced for many years that I was, in fact, an untouchable disease-ridden woman who would definitely die from cancer.
25 years later we know so much more about the prevalence and prevention of HPV. I, for one, am thankful for the advances in medicine that allow for the option of the HPV vaccine, which I do plan to give to my children.
Here is a take from another local mom and nurse. This post is NOT SPONSORED and the information within should not be used as a substitute for a consultation with your own doctor.
By Colleen Seeber-Combs, MSN, RN
There is perhaps no greater hot-button issue among parents than vaccination. Even parents who dutifully adhered to the child’s vaccination schedule when they were younger, take pause when it comes to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. For parents of preteens, the issue of whether or not to give the HPV vaccine (GARDASIL®9) typically emerges at their daughter or son’s 11- or 12-year well-child visit to the healthcare provider.
While most healthcare providers fully support and endorse the vaccination, other individuals argue that since HPV is usually sexually transmitted, the vaccination could promote promiscuity or force uncomfortable conversations with their preteen. Still, others hear reports of complications (often unsubstantiated) and fear the worst.
Why does my Child Need the HPV Vaccine?
HPV vaccination is recommended for ages 11 to 12 to protect against cancers caused by HPV infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. The virus can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer in men. In both men and women, HPV can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer, and genital warts. Every year in the United States, HPV causes 33,700 cancers in men and women. HPV vaccination can prevent most of these cancers.
Your child will receive two shots of the HPV vaccine, six to twelve months apart, when they are 11 or 12 years of age. The goal is to give the vaccination when your child is a preteen– long before ever being exposed to the virus. Some children need three doses of the vaccine. For example, adolescents who receive their two shots less than five months apart will need a third dose to ensure protection. Also, teens who start the vaccine series on or after their 15th birthday need three shots given over 6 months. If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to his or her provider about how to proceed.
What are the Side Effects and Contraindications?
Like any vaccine or medicine, the HPV vaccination can cause side effects. The most common are pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; dizziness, fainting, nausea, and headache. Of course, any child who has an allergy to the components of the vaccine, or an allergy to latex or yeast, should not receive the vaccine. Finally, the HPV vaccine is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant.
What to Do
Still on the fence about the HPV vaccination? Check out the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/cancer.html for more information. But most of all, check with your child’s provider (pediatrician or nurse practitioner) to find out if the vaccination is right for your child.