Immunizations are a very important part of your child’s lasting health. From the time your child is born, she needs to receive a very specific schedule of immunizations to stay protected from serious and deadly infections. You are probably familiar with most of the, but the HPV vaccine that combats cervical cancer is not widely understood.
If your child is 11 or older, make sure you understand the risks of cervical cancer and the role of Gardasil.
The Risks of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer develops in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that plays a leading role in causing cervical cancer.
When a woman’s immune system is exposed to HPV, her immune system may not be able to prevent the virus from doing harm. This allows HPV to morph cells on the cervix into cancer cells.
How Does Gardasil Work?
Gardasil is a vaccine approved by the FDA to prevent infection with disease-causing HPV. It is designed to prevent the highest-risk HPVs that cause about 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of all genital warts. Like other immunizations, Gardasil stimulates the production of antibodies that help the immune system prevent HPV from infectings cells in any potential future exposure.
The CDC currently recommends the Gardasil vaccination for children who are 11 years of age or older:
- Children aged 11 or 12 should get two HPV shots about 6 to 12 months apart.
- Young women through age 26 and young men though age 21 are recommended to get the HPV vaccine.
The CDC considers the combination of the HPV vaccination and cervical screening to provide the greatest potential protection against cervical cancer for adolescents, young women, and young men. Gardasil doesn’t just reduce against individual infections, but also the spread of the spread of HPV infections.
If your child has passed his 10th birthday, it is important to ask your pediatrician about HPV, cervical cancer, and Gardasil. Dr. Stephen Nelson has been caring for children throughout St. Petersburg and Largo for more than 30 years. He can provide the pediatric care for your child needs to stay healthy and active. Call (727) 525-2161 to make your child’s appointment today.