As parents, we do our best to protect our children and keep them healthy. You can even help protect your kids against cancer and it's easier than you might think.
This post is made possible with support from the American Cancer Society. All opinions are my own.
What a strange world we live in? The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping the world and we're all doing our best to help prevent further spread of the virus.
Government leaders have told us this means to stay home whenever possible, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be staying up to date on your child's well-checks or vaccines.
Thankfully our girls aren't due for their well-child checks until next month. It's tempting to put off their appointments for fear of being exposed to something in the waiting room, but Brady's due for a couple of important vaccines and I don't want her to get off schedule. Brady spent the first 40 days of her life in the NICU and I don't want her to be back in the hospital for something that I could have helped prevent.
While I can't protect her with a COVID-19 vaccine (yet), there's a virus that's even more common than COVID-19, and that same virus already has a vaccine she'll be getting. So we have one virus that has no vaccine, but another virus that causes 6 types of cancer and has a vaccine yet only 43.5% of Texas kids receive it. The vaccine I'm talking about that Brady's due to get at her next appointment is the HPV vaccine.
What is HPV?
HPV is the Human Papilloma Virus. There are more than 150 strains of it and it's extremely common with an estimated 80% of adults having likely been exposed or contracted the virus in their lifetime. This virus either goes away or the HPV can go on to cause cancer…15 types of cancer.
Why is the American Cancer Society partnering with Live Love Texas to help educate Texas families? That’s because the HPV vaccination is effective at preventing about 90% of six cancers including cervical, vulvar, vaginal, anal, penile, and throat. And cervical cancer is the only one of these cancers we can actually screen for.
How effective is the HPV vaccine?
Out of all the kids that get this vaccine at least 90% are protected from six types of cancers.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
Since 2006 when the HPV vaccine was released, more than 270 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been given worldwide, including 100 million doses in the U.S. Studies continue to show it is very safe. There have been 109 studies done in 6 countries that have shown that this vaccine is safe and there have been NO serious, negative side effects. Like with any vaccine, the HPV vaccine can cause redness, minor swelling, and irritation.
Who can get the HPV vaccine?
Just like the other vaccinations that kids get, the HPV vaccine is for all children – boys and girls. Like with other vaccinations, the HPV vaccination works best when it’s given on a particular schedule.
The first dose of the HPV vaccine is recommended between 9 and 12 years. This is when the immune system is at its peak and where the vaccine has the greatest opportunity to take effect in children’s bodies before they're ever exposed to the virus. A booster dose is then given 6-12 months after the initial dose.
What if my child missed the vaccination window?
It’s ok, you don’t have to worry if your kids are outside of the 9-12 age window either. Teens who start the vaccine at 15 or older can still receive the vaccination, they’ll just need a total of 3 doses spaced over 6 months. In fact, even adults up to age 26 are recommended to get the vaccine if they haven’t already.
The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention…plain and simple.
Mom to mom, I encourage you to talk to your pediatrician about getting the HPV vaccine for your children. The HPV vaccine protects against cancer – 15 types of cancer including the 6 that the human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause.
You can learn more about all the benefits the HPV vaccine has and how it can help prevent your kids against cancer by visiting the American Cancer Society’s info page here.