The ABCs of the HPV Vaccine
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that will infect most people at some point in their lives –about four out of five people. An estimated 80-million Americans are currently infected with 14-million new infections diagnosed each year.
There are about 100 types of HPV infections, affecting both men and women. Most go away on their own, but some go on to cause cancer, including cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men and women.
The American Cancer Society recommends the HPV vaccine for preteens with the optimal age 11 or 12. It can be given up to age 26, with either a two or three shot series, depending on the age of the person being vaccinated.
“There a good studies that show that if you get the HPV vaccine at a younger age, so in that preteen preferably before age 13, that the immune response is better and that we will see it lasting a little bit longer. And so we definitely see better protection if we get that vaccine at a younger age and it's going to last longer,” said Dana Deshon, APN, OSF HealthCare.
Dana Deshon is a pediatric Advanced Practice Nurse who recommends the vaccine for both girls and boys. She see it like other vaccines - as a protection against potential future illness.
“Not every HPV infection you get goes on and causes cancer but we know that there are certain ones. So the beauty of this vaccine is that it covers nine different types and those nine different types are the ones that are highly associated with the cancers that are related to HPV,” explained Deshon.
Deshon says the HPV vaccine could prevent 30,000 cases of cancer each year. She encourages parents to have a conversation with their child’s health care provider to understand more fully how the vaccine works.
“It's really a cancer prevention vaccine. So we really need to kind a shift that whole thought process that what we're doing is really trying to prevent cancer later down the road when and if somebody is exposed to it.”
Learn more about the HPV vaccine.