What Parents Should Know About the HPV, or Cervical Cancer, Vaccine
Does your daughter need the HPV vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer? Get the latest medical information on the HPV vaccine here.
What Concerns Do Parents Have about the HPV Vaccine?
What are some objections to the vaccine? Here are some concerns you may
have, along with responses to these concerns.
The HPV vaccine does not have a long track record of safety and
effectiveness. Over time, unintended problems may emerge.
Researchers have tested the
vaccines in more than 11,000 females, ages 9 to 26, around the world. They've
concluded that the vaccines are safe and cause no serious side effects. The FDA
has reviewed the studies and agrees. The main side effect of the HPV
vaccine was mild pain at the injection site. The vaccine contains no mercury or
Many states now require the vaccine for middle-school girls, which may
infringe on parental rights.
If states do make the HPV vaccine mandatory, you may have a choice to opt
out by reading the vaccine literature and signing a form.
The vaccine may give girls a false sense of security, or it may subtly
encourage sexual activity.
You can explain that the HPV vaccine is a cervical cancer vaccine. It only
protects against some types of HPV that lead to cancer. It offers no protection
against HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and other STDs (sexually
You can also discuss factors that increase or decrease risk of HPV
infection. According to the American Cancer Society, these factors increase HPV
- Having sex at an early age.
- Having many sexual partners.
- Having a partner who has had many sexual partners.
The CDC recommends that girls and women, even after vaccination, continue to
practice "protective sexual behaviors:"
- Limiting the number of sexual partners.
- Using condoms, which offer some, but not complete, protection against HPV,
HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections.
Remember that although your daughter may lower her risk through abstinence
and monogamy, she could still get HPV after a sexual assault or from an
infected spouse. Infection can result after even one sexual encounter.
Regular Pap Smears: Another Way to Fight Cervical Cancer
Whether or not you give your daughter the HPV vaccine, one thing is clear:
Regular Pap smears remain crucial for fighting cervical cancer. Even girls and
women who receive the HPV vaccine aren't protected from all cancer-causing
HPVs. Pap smears find early changes in the cervix that can lead to cancer.
Catching problems early provides the chance for more effective treatment.