It’s the conversation pediatrician Dr. Denise Drago with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida has with parents when it’s time for children to get the HPV vaccine. “You don’t wait until you are in a car accident to put on your seat belt. You don’t wait until you fall off your bike to put a bike helmet on, so why would you wait until your child is potentially more at risk to get protected. This vaccine isn’t really about sexual activity, which I think is what a lot of parents are concerned about, it’s about cancer prevention. If you could prevent your child from getting cancer, you would.”
HPV is short for the human papillomavirus—it’s the most common cause of cervical cancer. Children can get the vaccine as young as nine years old to help protect against the spread of HPV. “HPV also causes anal and genital cancers, it can cause oral cancers, and that’s what we’re looking to prevent,” said Dr. Drago.
Children under 15 years old receive two rounds of the vaccine, six months apart. Children who are over 15 years old get three vaccines. “We give it to girls and boys. The idea for the boys is they could have other types of cancers, but also they can potentially spread that disease to the females in their life, who could potentially get cervical cancer,” she said.
If children are already exposed to HPV, the vaccine will not reverse the disease, but it can still protect against other strands of HPV. “I think the biggest thing is, you may read and hear things that are not necessarily true, so if you have questions we really want to have an open and honest conversation, and I want you to feel comfortable with what you’re doing,” Dr. Drago said.
Making it important to talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about the HPV vaccine.
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