The HPV Vaccine: Advice for Parents

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Date: January 2010
Duration: 2:27

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Doctor Helen Rhodes, Associate Professor in M.D. Anderson's Department of Gynecologic Oncology, shares advice for parents regarding the HPV vaccine.

Dr. Rhodes:
I am the mother of 3 teenage girls, and all 3 have been vaccinated.

And what I like to tell mothers is, talk to your daughters, find out what's going on in their peer group socially. All of our daughters will be sexually active at some point, and exposed to HPV at some point. And so as a parent this is something you can do for your daughters to protect them from infection with HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18.

Whether or not they should be vaccinated at 9, or 14, or 26 I think that's an individual decision that a parent needs to make with their child. On a personal level I chose to have the girls vaccinated by the time they went to high school. For me, younger than that was a bit soon, but that was the decision I made based on the facts that I had at the time, and one I discussed with my daughters.

Some parents are reluctant to vaccinate their children against a sexually transmitted infection for fear of promoting sexual activity. There's lots of data to show there's really no relationship between vaccinating your child against a sexually transmitted infection and onset of early sexual behavior. You should be having these conversations with your children anyway.

So what I tell mothers and fathers is, if I could offer your daughter or son a vaccination against HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS, would you want to get your child vaccinated against that sexually transmitted infection, or would you be worried that it would promote sexual activity? And everybody raises their hand, yes, I would definitely want to get my child vaccinated against HIV. And so then I throw out, well why not HPV? And Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted infection, and everyone gets vaccinated as a baby.

So, that's one way to look at it, a different perspective.

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