August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Throughout the month, we will highlight the importance of vaccinations in people of all ages. This week's blog focuses on the importance of vaccines for preteens and teens.
Preteens and teens are at risk for diseases and need the protection of vaccines to keep them healthy. At this age, preteens and teens will need boosters for childhood vaccines to make sure they retain protection against diseases. It is also recommended that they get vaccines for other diseases starting at this age. One of the vaccines that is recommended for preteens starting at age 11 is the HPV vaccine.
What is HPV?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 150 related viruses. The most serious strains of HPV can cause genital warts, cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers. HPV is very common. According to the CDC around 1 in 4 Americans are currently infected with HPV, and around 14 million people contract HPV every year.
What does the HPV vaccine protect against?
The vaccine can protect men and women from getting the most serious strains of HPV. The vaccines are recommended for 11-26 year olds.
- For women: the vaccine is recommended for 11 or 12 year-old girls but can also be given to women through age 26 who did not get any or all of the doses when they were younger.
- For men: The vaccine is recommended for boys aged 11 or 12 years but can also be given to men through age 21 who did not get any or all doses when they were younger. The vaccine is also recommended for men through the age of 26 who have sex with men or have a compromised immune system.
If the HPV vaccine is given to 11-14 year olds, 2 doses of vaccine at least 6 months apart are recommended. However, if adolescents 14 years or younger have received 2 doses of HPV vaccine less than 5 months apart, they will need to get a third dose. For teens and young adults who start the series later at ages 15-26, they will need 3 doses of HPV vaccine. Three doses are also recommended for people with weakened immune systems ages 11-26 years.
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes, the vaccine is safe and is very effective at preventing HPV related cancers. To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccinesafety.html.
Keep your teen healthy by keeping them up-to-date on their vaccinations! #NationalImmunizationAwarenessMonth