M E D I C A L S P O T L I G H T
ASK A PHYSICIAN
Know the Facts about the HPV Vaccine
MYTH: Cases of HPV, the human papillomavirus, are rare.
FACT: HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, affecting
more than 80 million Americans. About 80 percent of sexually active adults
have been infected at some point. HPV is easily spread by sexual contact
including skin-to-skin contact and can be passed even when an infected
person has no signs or symptoms. HPV can lead to cervical cancer, oral
cancer, genital warts, abnormal pap smears, penile cancer, and anal cancer.
MYTH: The HPV vaccine is new.
FACT: The HPV vaccine has been in use since 2006. In fact, rates of
cervical cancer have been declining since the introduction of the HPV
vaccine. The HPV vaccine prevents infection with HPV types that are
associated with many cancers.
MYTH: There are many adverse side effects associated with the vaccine.
FACT: The HPV vaccine is safe and has no more side effects than other
far outweigh any potential risk of side effects. The most common side effects
are mild fever and tenderness, swelling and redness at the injection site.
Dizziness, fainting, nausea, and vomiting also can follow a shot. Allergic
reactions to the vaccine are rare. We believe that immunizations are vital
to your child’s health. They not only protect your child from deadly diseases
protect other children your child comes into contact with. The HPV vaccine,
in particular, has a very good safety record backed by more than 10 years of
monitoring and research. More than 170 million doses have been distributed
in that time, and there have been no serious safety concerns. The vaccine
continues to be monitored for safety in more than 80 countries around the
MYTH: Only girls need to receive the HPV vaccine.
FACT: HPV can infect girls and boys. Therefore, the vaccine is recommended
for girls and boys 11 or 12 years old, as well as for older kids who are
unvaccinated. The vaccine is given as a series of shots: Two dose series
if started before 15 years old; Three dose serves if started at 15 years old
and older The HPV vaccine is more effective when given at this age rather
than waiting until a child is older. Vaccines protect your child before they are
exposed to a disease. That’s why the HPV is recommended earlier rather than
later, to protect children long before they are ever exposed to the virus.
MYTH: Vaccinating teens causes them to be more sexually active.
FACT: Studies tell us that getting HPV vaccine doesn’t make kids more
likely to start having sex. The HPV vaccine actually has the best chance of
protecting against infection if the series of shots is given before a person
becomes sexually active. If you are concerned that your child will assume
you are “giving them permission to have sex,” tell your child what’s important
to you. When you talk about sex, share facts, feelings, and values; give your
child guidance about making smart, safe choices around sex. The key is to let
your children know that they can freely come to you with questions about sex.
20 Bham Family March 2020
Dr. Peily Soong
Peily Soong, MD, is a pediatrician
at Pediatrics East in Trussville.
Pediatrics East serves patients
from Jefferson, St. Clair,
and Blount counties and the
with Children’s of Alabama.
Since 1911, Children’s of
Alabama has provided
specialized medical care for ill
and injured children. Children’s
offers inpatient and outpatient
services across its Russell
Campus on Birmingham’s
historic Southside with additional
specialty services provided at
Children’s South, Children’s
on 3rd and in Huntsville and
Montgomery. Primary care is
provided at more than a dozen
across central Alabama.