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HPV vaccines recommended for girls starting at age 11

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Girls as young as 9 years old are vulnerable to the virus that causes cervical cancer. That's why getting vaccinated is so important for young girls.

Some 20 million people - mostly teens and folks in their early 20s - are thought to be infected with the cervical cancer causing virus, HPV.  A vaccination program can avoid the onset of this disease and save lives.

"Ask your doctor when your daughter should begin HPV vaccines."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) all recommend that young women be vaccinated starting at age 11 or 12.

George Speck, M.D., a gynecologist in Harlingen, Texas, said, "This vaccine is very important for younger girls. It does prevent cervical cancer and there are not any known disadvantages," said Dr. Speck.

The vaccine is given in series of three shots over roughly six months. Following the first shot, the next is given one or two months later, and the third is given at six months. The series must be completed to be effective.

Dr. Speck says that most of his patients "are compliant" and finish the series. He used to office with his daughter, who also specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Speck said that some of her patients weren't as good about following through.

There are two HPV vaccines available: Cervarix and Gardasil. Ask your doctor which would be best.

Vaccinations can begin as early as 9 years of age, and catch-up vaccinations are recommended for your women 13-26 who have not completed the series.

Families needing help paying for vaccines can ask their healthcare provider about the Vaccines for Children program. Or, call 800-CDC-INFO to learn more.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 1, 2011
Last Updated:
September 4, 2011