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Don't skip your kid's HPV vaccine

Don't skip your kid's HPV vaccine

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The HPV vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old boys and girls. It can be given during a well-child visit.

Kids are heading back into the classroom after a year like no other due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the last year, childhood immunization declined, putting kids at risk for diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations. The hope is that as children return to the classroom, children will return to their health care provider, too.

Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious diseases physician, says if you have a preteen, make sure he or she gets vaccinated for HPV now. It could prevent your child from getting cancer later in life.

Sitting in a health care provider's office can be scary for anyone, especially a kid awaiting a vaccination. But not as scary as HPV.

"The scary thing about this virus is that it also is a virus that can cause cancer," Dr. Rajapakse says.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. About 85% of all people will become infected at some point in their lifetime.

The vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old boys and girls. And it can be given during a well-child visit.

"You want to vaccinate kids before they're ever exposed to this virus. Once you've been infected with the virus, the vaccine is no longer effective in preventing infection with that strain of the virus."

Dr. Rajapakse says the vaccine can be given to those as young as 9 and up to age 45.

"This is a really effective, really safe vaccine that is unique because it is a vaccine that prevents cancer."

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