JGI/Jamie Grill for Getty Images
JGI/Jamie Grill for Getty Images

If you are 26 years old or younger, or if you have children, the HPV vaccine concerns you. “Genital HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A statement reaffirming the critical need for people to have this vaccine was endorsed today by all 69 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers. Nearly 39,000 new cancers related to HPV are diagnosed each year in the United States, including about 12,000 cases of cervical cancer causing 4,000 deaths annually. The statement by the cancer specialists concludes: “The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention.”

Key facts:

  • The vaccine is recommended for all 11- and 12-year-old girls and boys, because it’s most effective when received before someone become sexually active. These children receive two doses, administered six months apart. Girls as young as 9 years old can be vaccinated on request.
  • For ages 13-26, the dosage recommendation increases to three doses for previously unvaccinated males and females.
  • Licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the vaccine has been shown to be safe and long-lasting, still effective for the earliest test patients who received the vaccine 10 years ago.
  • The three available vaccines are Gardasil, Gardasil 9 and Cervarix. Ask your doctor which one he or she recommends.
  • More than 60 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed in the U.S. as of March 2014.
    Insurance pays for this vaccination, and the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program helps families not covered by insurance.
  • Vaccinated men and women should continue to get screened for HPV-related cancers, because the vaccine covers many, but not all, of these cancers.

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