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Why HPV is Really a Big Deal

Published in For the Health of It

As a parent you always want what is best for your child. You feed them broccoli despite their pleas. You make them wear a helmet while bike riding, even when "nobody else has to." And you bring them to the doctor when they are sick, regardless of how "fine" they are.

So as your child grows, it is important to continue to give them the best foundation for a healthy life. This includes having them vaccinated against common ailments that can affect them later in life. Fourteen million people in the U.S. are infected by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) each year. Although most people can fight off the virus, many of these infections lead to thousands of new cancer cases.

You may have heard your physician suggest your child receive the HPV vaccine. But what is HPV and why is it so important for your children to be vaccinated against it?

The HPV infection is the most common sexually-transmitted disease in the U.S. which affects the mouth, throat and genital area of both males and females. Despite its dangerous consequences, most people infected will never develop systems and may never know they have it. Although most HPV infections will clear up within two years, it can also lead to cancer and other diseases. The HPV vaccine works by blocking these infections and protecting against HPV related cancers.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that by age 12, all boys and girls, begin the HPV vaccine series. You may be wondering why so young? While the vaccine is very effective, the younger recipients have a higher immune response and therefore better results. It is also necessary to complete the three-shot series before an individual becomes sexually active in order to be effective. If your child has not received the HPV series, you are still able to catch them up. Young men up through the age of 21, and young women up through the age of 26 should still complete the three-shot series if they have not done so.

The HPV vaccine series is a safe and effective method of preventing several forms of cancer. Despite its efficiency, many preteens have not yet been vaccinated. So make sure you are preparing your child for the future, talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine!