As your child approaches adolescence, their provider will be discussing the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine - also known as Gardasil® - at a well-child visit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all girls and boys receive the HPV vaccine series, preferably by the time they turn thirteen.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, affecting nearly 80 million people in the U.S., many of them in their late teens and early 20s. It is so common that nearly all sexually active people will get it at some point in their lives. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause genital warts and several types of cancers in both women and men.
The HPV series, if begun before age 15, now requires only two shots given 6-12 months apart. It offers the best protection to those who receive the full series in early adolescence, before becoming sexually active. However, it is also recommended for older adolescents and adults through the age of 45 who have not yet received it.
More than 100 million doses of HPV vaccine have already been given worldwide, and multiple studies continue to show that it is both safe and effective. When you come in for your child’s upcoming annual check-up, their clinician will discuss the importance of the HPV vaccine and address any questions you may have.
For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HPV page.