For those of you familiar with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, the latest research is encouraging and exciting and has led to an update in the recommendations for the vaccine schedule.
To sum it up, adolescents that are vaccinated earlier develop better long-lasting immunity with fewer doses of the vaccine. So now, rather than a 3 dose schedule for everyone:
- People age 11-14 will receive 2 doses of HPV vaccine, separated by 6 months
- People age 15-26 will receive 3 doses of HPV vaccine, at time 0, 2 months, and 6 months
This changes the answer to a question that parents often ask. When do we NEED to get the vaccine? Instead of it simply being important to get this vaccine before your child is sexually active, we now know that getting it younger creates better immunity. So now, 11 or 12 is really the best recommendation I can give for protecting your daughters and sons against cervical cancer, penile cancer, genital warts and certain mouth cancers.
I often have parents decline this vaccine for their child because they expect abstinence and are open in their discussion about sex with their children. You are doing a great job! Please keep talking and setting good expectations for your children. But, please know that despite all you do, your child may make choices that put them at risk for HPV. Even if your child waits until marriage with a partner he or she is committed to and who is committed to her/him, the partner may have had prior exposures that could put your child at risk for exposure to HPV and cervical cancer.
As a mother of daughters, I don’t presume I will have knowledge about the sexual history of their partners. (And let’s be honest, they are so little, I can’t even think about it). But, they will get the HPV vaccine when they are the right age. Because IT PREVENTS CANCER. And to me, it really is that simple.