According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), attitudes about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are changing. In 2016, a record-high 60 percent of adolescents under age 15 received at least one of the two-dose vaccination.
While there’s still more progress to be made, the number of vaccinated teens has grown greatly over the past decade. The CDC also noted that, in 2006, only 30 percent of adolescents received the vaccine.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” says Rosemary Casey, MD, pediatrician at Lankenau Medical Center, part of Main Line Health. “Vaccinating teenagers against HPV is just as important as vaccinating children against health epidemics like tetanus or measles.”
Human papillomavirus, more commonly referred to as HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease, affecting nearly 80 million Americans.
Nearly every sexually active man or woman, regardless of sexual preference, will contract some strain of HPV during their lifetime. There are more than 100 different types of HPV, and many may not result in symptoms. In fact, many patients with HPV may never realize that they have it.
However, some patients can experience health issues ranging from the easily treatable, like genital warts, to the more serious, like cervical and genital cancers or a type of head and neck cancer called oropharyngeal cancer. Many of these potential issues are preventable with a vaccination.
“The vaccine protects the body from certain types of HPV, particularly those that are linked to genital warts and cases of cervical, anal, penile and throat cancer,” explains Dr. Casey. “It’s very important that parents talk to their pediatrician or family physician about vaccinating their children.”
HPV vaccines are distributed in two or three doses, and are recommended to begin at age 11 or 12. However, children can receive it as young as 9 years old, and through the age of 26.
To learn more about the HPV vaccine for you or a member of your family, talk to your physician. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.