The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated the vaccine recommendations for HPV vaccine, an immunization that prevents sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that can lead to certain types of cancer.
Two Doses or Three? It Depends on Age
Previously, the general recommendation for boys and girls was to receive three doses of HPV vaccine beginning at age 11 or 12. However, extensive research has indicated that just two doses of the HPV vaccine can protect younger teens against the sexually transmitted HPV virus. Therefore, the CDC now recommends that 11- to 14-year-olds receive two doses of HPV vaccine at least six months apart, rather than the previously recommended three doses. Children as young as 9 or 10 years can also receive two doses of the vaccine.
Teens and young adults age 15 through 26 years should continue to receive three doses of the HPV vaccine. This is because the immune system of a person in this older age group produces a weaker response to the vaccine, therefore an extra dose is needed for maximum effectiveness against HPV infection.
Why Preteens Should be Vaccinated
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and, at some point, will affect most individuals who are sexually active. In most cases, people remain unaware they have an infection because it resolves naturally and does not cause health problems. For others, certain types of HPV infection can lead to cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, throat, anus or penis. Genital warts also occur in men and women due to infection with certain HPV viruses.
HPV vaccines offer protection against four common strains of HPV: two types that cause an estimated 70% of cervical cancer and two types that cause an estimated 90% of genital warts. However, the vaccine only offers protection against HPV if given prior to exposure to a virus. It cannot cure an HPV infection. Since initial HPV infections often occur in the late teens or early 20s, during the first few years of sexual activity, early immunization is imperative. Even if your child waits until marriage to become sexually active, HPV vaccine is an important step to protect his or her health.
Protect Your Child’s Health at RediClinic
RediClinic offers the HPV vaccine and many other recommended immunizations for boys, girls, teens and young adults. Those age 26 and younger who did not get HPV shots or did not finish the series when they were younger should get it now.