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Pediatrician talking to young boy in clinic.

Should My Son Get the HPV Vaccine?

By Dr. Mark C. Downey, Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg

The HPV vaccine that prevents cancer in both boys and girls has been recommended by pediatricians for years.

However, according to a 2010-2018 National Health Interview Survey, just 16% of young men ages 18-21 had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, compared with 42% of young women in the same age group.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the country. There are more than 40 types of HPV. Fourteen of those are high-risk types that are responsible for most HPV-related cancers.

Doctors recommend routine vaccination with two doses at age 11 to 12 for both males and females. If the first dose is given after age 15, a third dose is recommended. Even if your child isn’t sexually active, it’s best to get the vaccine. The earlier your child is vaccinated, the better their immune system responds.

Vaccination not only protects against cervical cancer in women, it also helps prevent other HPV-related cancers such as oropharyngeal (throat, tonsils and tongue), anal, and penile cancer. Throat, tonsils, and tongue cancers now exceed cervical cancer as the most common cancer caused by HPV, and men account for 80% of new diagnoses.

The vaccine has an excellent safety record. In fact, clinical trials and real-world data have shown that the vaccines greatly reduce the risk of pre-cancers and cancers caused by all cancer-causing HPV types. With more than 12 years of safety monitoring, the vaccine has shown no serious side effects.

We understand you may have questions and concerns about vaccinating your pre-teen. The American Academy of Pediatrics has answers. A list of frequently asked questions can be found here. If you have additional questions or would like to have your child vaccinated, please contact your CHKD pediatrician.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.