Why Your Daughter Should Get the HPV Vaccine

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It is a common misunderstanding that the HPV vaccine is just a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. While the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus transmitted through sexual contact like other STDs, it can lead to cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, anal cancer, vulvar cancer, and genital warts. HPV's role in the development of many other types of cancer is being investigated by researchers.

In June 2006, the FDA approved the use of Gardasil, an HPV vaccine, in young women ages 9nine to 26. It was replaced by Gardasil 9, which was approved in 2014 and covers nine HPV types. The CDC recommends HPV vaccination with a target age of 11 or 12 years but it can be started as early as age nine and recommended through age 26 for those who haven't been adequately vaccinated previously.

In October 2019, the FDA expanded the approval of the HPV vaccine to include men and women age 27 to 45. The decision of whether or not to get the vaccine during this time should based on a shared decision between the adult and their healthcare provider.

Why Girls Should Get the HPV Vaccine

  1. Gardasil greatly reduces the chances that your daughter will develop cervical cancer. Gardasil 9 protects against seven high-risk types of HPV that cause 90% of all cases of cervical cancer, thus greatly reducing the risk of developing cervical cancer later in life. About 13,800 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and an estimated 4,290 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
    Because Gardasil does not protect against all types of HPV, women who are vaccinated still need to have regular Pap smears to detect any precancerous changes. The vaccine does not replace the Pap smear and regular Pap smears are necessary for optimum cervical health.
  2. Gardasil protects young girls from the two common types of HPV that can cause genital warts. Vaccinated girls are protected from the two types of HPV that are responsible for 90% of genital warts. Genital warts can appear as cauliflower-like growths that can occur on, within, and around the vagina. They also can appear as flat growths that aren't prominent and can go unnoticed. Although genital warts do not pose any immediate health risk, they can be embarrassing for many women and can cause feelings of shame.
  3. Gardasil greatly reduces the risk of developing other potentially life-threatening types of cancer. Vaccinating your daughter will greatly reduce the risk of her developing precancerous and abnormal vaginal and vulvar lesions that could become cancerous. The same types of HPV that cause cervical cancer are also linked to vaginal and vulvar cancer. Although less common than cervical cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancer are serious types of cancer that can be life-threatening.
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