The HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention!
Talk to Your Doctor about the HPV Vaccine
Just two doses of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine at age 11-12 protects your child from the infections that cause cancer. The vaccine works best when your child is a preteen. Talk to your nurse or doctor about it at your child’s next physical or wellness visit. Consider asking these questions to make sure you have all the information you need:
- How do you know the vaccine is safe?
- What cancers will the shot protect against?
- Why is it best to get the shot at 11-12 years?
- Why does my child need it if they’re not sexually active?
- Is the vaccine for boys and girls?
HPV Vaccine is Very Safe
Many parents choose to protect their child with the HPV vaccine. Some people who get the HPV vaccine have very mild side effects, like pain or redness where the shot was given. Most people do not have any side effects at all.
- The HPV vaccine has been studied and monitored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) monitoring and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitoring for more than 12 years. There have not been any serious safety concerns related to the vaccine.
- More than 100 million HPV vaccinations have already been given to boys and girls in the United States.
The HPV Vaccine Prevents Cancer
There is no cure for HPV infections, only treatment for symptoms, but the vaccine can prevent more than 90 percent of HPV-related cancers from ever developing. HPV infections can cause:
- Cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers
- Penile cancer
- Anal cancer
- Cancer of the back of the throat (oropharynx)
- Genital warts
Most HPV infections do not cause symptoms and go away on their own, but some persistent infections can lead to cancer. There is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other diseases.
HPV Causes Thousands of Cases of Cancer Every Year
HPV causes cancer in more than 45,300 Americans every year. In Colorado, about 586 people are diagnosed with an HPV-associated cancer each year.
- About 80 million people in the United States are currently infected with HPV.
- About 4 out of 5 people will get HPV at some point in their lives.
- About 40 kinds of HPV can infect the genital area, mouth and throat.
- Certain types of HPV can cause genital warts, while others can cause common warts (like those on the hands and feet).
The Vaccine Works Best at Ages 11 - 12
- Boys and girls ages 11-12 years have a stronger immune response to the vaccine compared to older adolescents and adults. They will only need 2 shots (instead of 3) if they get the vaccine at this age.
- Vaccination protects children before they may be exposed to the virus.
- The HPV vaccine can be given alongside other preteen vaccines like Tdap (which prevents whooping cough, diptheria and tetanus) and meningococcal (which prevents meningitis).
HPV Vaccine is for Boys and Girls
- HPV can cause cancers in both men and women. The vaccine protects boys against HPV infections that can lead to anal, penile, and throat and mouth cancers later in life. The vaccine protects girls against HPV infections that can lead to cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal and throat and mount cancers later in life.
- Vaccinating boys and girls helps to prevent the spread of HPV to future partners.
HPV Can Spread Without You Knowing It
HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it.
- Most people with HPV don’t know they are infected.
- HPV can be unknowingly spread even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
- It is important for children to get the HPV vaccine before they may be exposed to the virus so that they are protected from developing cancer in the future.
Hear from a family physician about why, as a doctor and a parent, he is making sure each of his children receive the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12.
Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure your child is protected against HPV-related cancers!
Do Your Own Research about HPV
It can be difficult to know where to find information that is accurate. When doing research, look to make sure the author and date of the study are listed and sources of information are provided. Below are some trusted sources of information about HPV, the HPV vaccine, and vaccines in general.
- HPV and Cancer - National Cancer Institute
- Vaccine Safety Studies - American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, Department of Health and Human Services
- A Look at Each Vaccine: Human Papillomavirus - Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center
- HPV: What You Need to Know - American Academy of Pediatrics
- Vaccine Information for PreTeens - Immunization Action Coalition
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- HPV Survivor Stories - ShotbyShot.org
About the Alliance for HPV Free Colorado
The Alliance for HPV Free Colorado is funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to address cancer. Members include Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science, Boulder County Public Health, Broomfield Public Health and Environment, Immunize Colorado, Denver Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health, Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, Northeast Colorado Health Department, Tri-County Health Department, and Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment.
This campaign is supported by the Cancer, Cardiovascular and Chronic Pulmonary Disease Grants Program.
If you are a healthcare provider, visit our HPV Information for Providers Page.
Join the HPV Free COmmunity
Speak up for the cancer-preventing power of the HPV vaccine in your community! The Alliance for HPV Free Colorado seeks parents, community members and those who have experience with HPV-related cancer to join the HPV Free COmmunity advocate group. If you are interested in joining this important group, please fill out the Involvement Form.