HPV Vaccine - What's the Big Deal?

I recently watched a lecture at Cincinnati Children's Hospital about the HPV vaccine (human papilloma virus) and wanted to share some key points.  HPV has been identified as the cause of 100% of cervical cancers in women.  It can also cause throat and genital cancers in men. It is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women ages 15 to 44 years. By age 26, 85 to 91% of men and women have contracted HPV.  It is often silent or asymptomatic.  It can be spread by contact, so it does not require actual intercourse.  Since its introduction over 10 years ago 270 million doses have been given.  It is safe and effective.  A recent study of Cincinnati teenagers showed that the vaccine reduced the prevalence of HPV from 33% to 3% in the population studied.

Still not convinced? What about side effects?  When is the best time to give it?  The main side effects of the vaccine are pain and light-headedness.  This can happen with any vaccine or blood draw in teens.  The best time to give the vaccine is 11-12 years as prepubertal children seem to have a better immune response. In fact, if we give the vaccine before age 15 we only need 2 doses versus 3 doses for ages 15 and older. 

My final thought is to leave you with the story of the Hepatitis B vaccine, which very much parallels the HPV vaccine in terms of rationale and schedule.  Hepatitis B is contracted through contact with blood and body fluids.  In the 1980s and 1990s it was one of the leading causes of chronic liver disease and liver cancer.  Fortunately, the Hepatitis B vaccine was discovered and initiated in 1991.  We now give the vaccine right away after birth, as it can be spread from mother to baby during delivery.  It has been a routine part of infant vaccines for more than two decades and the rate of hepatitis B related liver disease and cancer has been dramatically reduced. 

Here is some additional information: 
HPV Myths

HPV Vaccine Is Safe

Thanks for reading!

Charles Cavallo, MD
Posted: 11/7/2017 8:39:35 AM | with 1 comments