HPV Cases on the Decline

Cases of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) have gone down significantly since a vaccine approved by the FDA in 2006.The rates of the four types of HPV covered by vaccines have decreased 56% in young girls.

Although only about a third of girls have gotten the recommended doses, the numbers have exceeded the CDC's expectations.

"I've had a couple friends whose daughters were a couple years older than Peyton and they had received it and had no ill effects," says Connie McNabb, whose thirteen-year-old daughter Peyton got the HPV vaccine last year."I know there's been a lot of controversy, but talking with the physician I felt very comfortable with the decision of having her getting it done."

McNabb's pediatrician encouraged her to get the shot, as she does with all of her patients.

"We usually try to give it between the ages of 11, 12, 13, somewhere in there. They have to come in anyway to get shots before they go into eighth grade," says Dr. Merrick, a pediatrician.

Merrick says she starts asking about the shot then, but children can get it as early as age nine.

"The important thing is to try to get it before you become sexually active, because it's only going to work if you get the vaccine before you get exposed to the virus," says Merrick.

It's not just for girls though. Boys can get the vaccine as well to prevent the spread of HPV.

"Obviously they won't get cervical cancer, but if boys don't have the virus, they're not going to spread it, so it's helping protect girls who don't have the vaccine also," says Merrick.

It's just one more thing you can do to protect your health and prevent cancer, says Merrick.

"I just think it's about being proactive as a parent making sure your kids have all the tools that they can get to make sure they're still healthy," adds McNabb.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country, causing more than two-thirds of cervical cancer and affecting 79 million Americans.

More than 14 million new infections are reported each year.

There are always side effects with any kind of vaccine, but the number one that most kids complain about is pain, which goes away after a few days, according to Merrick.

Insurance does cover the cost of the HPV shot.

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