As parents schedule their well-child visits, one vaccine that parents of older children have a lot of questions about is the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV causes more than 30,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. every year and is the primary cause of cervical cancer in women. It’s also a contributing cause to several other types of cancer in women and men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children receive the HPV vaccine around age 11 to ensure maximum effectiveness, but only around half of kids are actually getting the vaccine.
As a pediatrician, I talk to parents often about their concerns with the vaccine. It can make parents of preteens particularly uncomfortable to think about a vaccine that prevents against the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). But it’s critically important to your child’s health as he or she enters adulthood.