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American Cancer Society updates recommendations for HPV vaccine

Mankato KEYC-TV logo Mankato KEYC-TV 7/9/2020 Tom Hanson
While the HPV vaccine is routinely recommended at age 11 or 12, it can be given as early as age nine. Now the American Cancer Society is encouraging health care providers to start offering the cancer-preventing vaccine sooner. © Provided by Mankato KEYC-TV While the HPV vaccine is routinely recommended at age 11 or 12, it can be given as early as age nine. Now the American Cancer Society is encouraging health care providers to start offering the cancer-preventing vaccine sooner.

(KEYC) — The human papillomavirus, or HPV, causes nearly 35,000 cancers every year, including cervical and head and neck cancer, according to the CDC. Studies show the HPV vaccine can prevent many of those cancers. The American Cancer Society is updating its recommendations to try to get more people vaccinated.

While the HPV vaccine is routinely recommended at age 11 or 12, it can be given as early as age nine. Now the American Cancer Society is encouraging health care providers to start offering the cancer-preventing vaccine sooner. Debbie Saslow, PhD is with the American Cancer Society. She says, "Kids can still get the shot at 11-12, but it is - it's easier and more effective to get it at 9-10. And by effective I mean at a population level. If you raise vaccination rates, which is what we're seeing in these early studies, then you raise everybody's protection against these cancers."

While some parents have had concerns about the HPV vaccine, Dr. Saslow says the research shows it's safe and effective. "This vaccine has been studied in over two and a half million people, in over 100 studies, in over six countries, and all of those studies have shown no serious side effects," she says.

Girls and boys get two doses of the vaccine if they start the series before age 15. After 15, they need three doses.

15-year-old Maddox Mega is up to date on his vaccines, including the HPV vaccine. Maddox’s father, Matthew, says, “We definitely believe in modern medicine. It really hasn’t even been a second thought.”

Dr. Jay Berger is Maddox's pediatrician at proHEALTH Care in New York. He says, "HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. And by the time the child is actually interested in thinking about having sexual activity, that might be too late. So it's important to get the vaccine before the child's even thinking about it."

The American Cancer Society also recommends any children and young adults up to age 26 who haven’t been vaccinated should get the shot. The American Cancer Society does not recommend the HPV vaccine for adults over age 26. They say it’s not unsafe, but it’s not effective in that age group for cancer prevention.

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