Why Do Children Need the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine?

The human papillomavirus vaccine may raise some questions. Here's what you need to know for a safe vaccination.
Why Do Children Need the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine?
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Written and verified by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 23 May, 2023

The human papillomavirus vaccine has been on the market since 2006. Since then, many adolescents and children have been inoculated in different countries. However, while the vaccine is effective and safe, parents are often hesitant to make a decision. Therefore, if you’re wondering if the human papillomavirus vaccine is right for your child and when it should be given, take note!

What is the human papillomavirus?

According to studies published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the human papillomavirus causes the following diseases:

  • 60% of cases of penile cancer
  • About 70% of vulvar and vaginal cancers
  • More than 90% of all cervical and anal cancers

Clinical manifestations of HPV

The virus can be spread through sex or through some types of skin-to-skin contact. In this way, it generates genital warts and contributes to the formation of abnormal cells that can lead to cancer cells.

A couple opening a condom.
The vaccine doesn’t protect against all types of HPV, so condom use is always recommended for sexually active people.

The CDC recommended age for vaccination is between 11 and 12 years old, before becoming sexually active. However, children as young as 9 years old can also be safely vaccinated. Even older children, adolescents, and 26-year-olds can benefit from vaccination. However, those vaccinated after the age of 12 will see reduced effectiveness due to previous exposure to the virus.

Initially, it was a vaccine that was recommended only for females. However, today, studies published in 2018 advise it regardless of gender.

Later side effects

The most common adverse effects of the human papillomavirus vaccine include the following:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling of the area
  • Mild fever
  • Local redness
  • Dizziness and vomiting

If any of these symptoms occur, it’s best to consult a physician to prescribe ibuprofen or acetaminophen to control fever and pain. Allergic reactions caused by the vaccine are very rare.

How many doses does the vaccination schedule require?

A health professional putting a bandaid on a preteen girl after a vaccine.
The inoculation against the human papillomavirus is carried out in 2 or 3 doses, depending on the medical condition and age of the patient.

During the medical consultation, the specialist is the one who gives an order for the application of the vaccine against the human papillomavirus. If the patient doesn’t have a primary care physician, the order can be requested at health centers, clinics, or some pharmacies. The vaccine called Gardasil 9 provides protection against several strains of HPV that tend to develop cervical cancer, along with others that are also risky.

These strains include the following: HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. According to a recent publication by Cureus, the most common and risky are HPV16 and HPV18 types.

Some of the variables for dosing may include the following:

  • Children under 15: A second dose is indicated within 6 months to one year after their first application. Otherwise, if both vaccines are administered in a range of less than 5 months, they should be inoculated with a third dose.
  • Persons between 15 and 26 years of age: This group should receive three doses. The second dose should be administered one or two months after the first, while the third is recommended 4 months later. This type of schedule is also applicable for immunocompromised persons between 9 and 26 years of age.

The benefits of HPV vaccination

Many parents wonder why HPV vaccination is recommended for children. In this regard, while it’s not a cure, it’s a preventive measure to provide protection from serious diseases for children. It’s even more effective when administered before initiating sexual activity. The application guarantees protection against the virus and the development of genital warts and prevents six different types of cancer.

Final considerations regarding the human papillomavirus vaccine

In conclusion, inoculation provides protection to children, adolescents, and young adults against HPV infection. This is essential, as the virus causes genital warts and several variants of cancer. In addition, it’s ideal to be vaccinated before becoming sexually active, at around 11 or 12 years of age. Moreover, it’s an effective and safe vaccine.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cancer Associated with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). [Internet] Disponible en: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/cancers.htm
  • Vaccine (shot) for Human Papillomavirus. [Internet] Disponible en: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/diseases/hpv.html
  • Harder T, Wichmann O, Klug SJ, van der Sande MAB, Wiese-Posselt M. Efficacy, effectiveness and safety of vaccination against human papillomavirus in males: a systematic review. BMC Med. 2018 Jul 18;16(1):110. doi: 10.1186/s12916-018-1098-3. PMID: 30016957; PMCID: PMC6050686.
  • Charde SH, Warbhe RA. Human Papillomavirus Prevention by Vaccination: A Review Article. Cureus. 2022 Oct 7;14(10):e30037. doi: 10.7759/cureus.30037. PMID: 36381816; PMCID: PMC9637390.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.