If you have a child who is at least nine years old, you may be considering whether or not they should be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts and certain types of cancer, including cervical, vulva, vaginal, anal and head and neck cancers. In fact, 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV.
“The HPV vaccine has been around since 2006 for girls and was recently licensed for boys,” says Rachel Plotnick, MD, pediatrician at the GBMC Pediatric Group. “It can be found in a vast majority of pediatricians’ offices, including those here at GBMC, and can be given as early as age nine. However, we find the best age to start the vaccine is between ages 11 and 12.”
The vaccine is a series of three shots. The patient receives the first shot and returns to the office two months later for the second shot. Then, four months later, he or she comes back again for the final shot.
“Side effects of this vaccine are usually minor,” says Dr. Plotnick. “The most common side effect we see is some swelling and redness at the injection site.”
For more information on GBMC or to find a pediatrician for your child, call 443-849-GBMC (4262) or visit www.gbmc.org/pediatrics.
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