Why my kids got the HPV vaccine
There are three HPV vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Cervarix (HPV 2) and Gardasil (HPV 4) protect against the most common HPV types and against cervical, anal, vulvar, vaginal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers. Only Gardasil protects against the HPV types most likely to cause genital warts. These vaccines prevent about 70% of cervical cancers.
Gardasil 9 (HPV 9), protects against nine types of HPV, including five that other vaccines don’t cover. It also will prevent about 90% of cervical cancers.
Gardisil-9 is effective for females age 9-26 and males age 9-21. MD Anderson recommends that girls and boys receive the vaccine around age 11 to 12. The vaccine is given at this age so boys and girls have time to develop an immune response. HPV vaccines are given in two shots over six months. Your child must get both shots for maximum protection from cancer.
Things to know about the HPV vaccine
- The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective vaccination against cancer.
- No research links the HPV vaccine to earlier or increased sexual activity in boys or girls.
- Becoming pregnant after receiving the HPV vaccine is safe for both mother and fetus.
HPV and cervical cancer
Because no vaccine prevents all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, vaccinated women age 21 to 29 should still receive Pap tests every three years.
In addition to Pap tests, women age 30 to 64 also should be tested for HPV every five years. This exam checks your cervix for the virus that can cause abnormal cells that lead to cervical cancer. It may show that more frequent screening is needed.
Women age 65 or older should discuss their individual need for screening with their doctor.
HPV Call to Action
MD Anderson joins all NCI-designated cancer centers in urging parents and physicians to improve HPV vaccination rates.