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Human Papillomavirus

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A Parent's Guide to Preventing Cancer Through HPV Vaccination | Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

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Getting your child the HPV Vaccine now, helps prevent several cancers later.

What if you could protect your child from getting cancer in the future? You can. The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine can prevent cervical cancer and many other cancers in women AND men. It's most effective if given at the age of 11 or 12, but can be given through age 26. Most men and women will contract HPV in their lifetime. You can make sure your child is not one of them. 

Important Information About HPV


    What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

    Human Papillomavirus or HPV is a common family of viruses that causes infection on the skin or mucous membranes of various areas of the body. There are many different types of HPV. Several types of HPV infection affect different areas of the body.

    How common is HPV?

    HPV is incredibly common! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79 million Americans are infected with it currently. 14 million Americans become newly infected every year. There are no symptoms, so most people don't realize they have it. Most men and women will contract HPV in their lifetime.

    Can HPV infection be treated?

    There is no treatment or cure for HPV infection. There are only treatments available for the health problems HPV can cause. In most cases, the body fights off the virus naturally. In the cases where the virus cannot be fought off naturally, the body is at risk for serious complications such as cancer.

    To learn about how HPV is spread, cancers that are caused by HPV and what the vaccine protects against visit the CDC's website.



    What is the HPV Vaccine?

    There are two HPV vaccines licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are recommended by the CDC. Two vaccines (Cervarix® and Gardasil®) protect against cancer-causing HPV, and both are available for females. Gardasil® is available for males. It is important to get all doses of the vaccine for the best protection.

    Mayo Clinic addresses parent concerns on HPV vaccine.

    Are the vaccines safe and effective?

    The vaccines have been proven to be highly effective in protecting against the HPV types that cause cancers, with few to no side effects.

    All vaccines used in the U.S. are required to go through years of extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the FDA. Both vaccines had extensive clinical trials before licensure, where more than 28,000 males and females participated. Now in use, the vaccines are continually monitored for their safety and effectiveness through three monitoring systems. These systems can monitor adverse events already known to be caused by a vaccine as well as detect rare events.

    Millions of doses have been distributed since 2006, with no serious side effects reported.  Common, mild side effects included pain where the shot was given, fever, headache and nausea.


  • When should my child get the HPV Vaccine?

    The vaccine works best when given at age 11-12 years, though it can be given as early as 9 years of age.  Catch-up ages for girls are from 13-26 and 13-21 years for boys.  If your son or daughter did not receive the vaccine at the recommended ages, they may still be eligible for doses through age 26.

    Depending on when your child started the vaccine series, they may only need two doses to be fully protected.  People with compromised immune systems need three doses even if they start the series before age 15.  It's importatnt to get all recommended doses.  The vaccine produces better immunity to fight infection when given at the younger ages compared to the older ages.
    Why vaccinate against HPV at 11-12 years of age?

    • The vaccine produces better immunity to fight infection when given at younger ages, compared with older ages
    • Like all vaccines, the HPV vaccine is much more effective at preventing cancer if all three doses are administered before contact with the target viruses
    • Most men and women will contract at least one type of HPV in their lifetime
    • Both vaccines against HPV have been tested in thousands of people around the world and are proven to have no serious side effects
    • Both vaccines are highly effective against the two HPV types most likely to cause cancers

  • How can you get your child the HPV Vaccine?

    Help reduce the risk of your child getting cancer later; get the HPV Vaccine now. Contact your local health care provider or county health department to find out when and where you can get your child the HPV vaccine.

    Parents - for more information, visit these helpful links:

    Providers - for more information, visit this helpful link:

    To order brochures, fliers and posters for your office or clinic, go to the MDHHS clearinghouse, click on Immunizations along the left hand side, and scroll to item # IM118.

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