Let’s talk about HPV vaccination
Monday, July 1, 2019
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That’s the question. When it comes to human papillomavirus, or HPV, it’s important to talk about vaccination.
If you have children between 9 and 12 years of age, your child’s pediatrician probably already has broached the subject of HPV vaccination. Here’s some additional information from Dr. Steve A. Zent, an oral surgeon with Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons BayCare Clinic, to help you arrive at a decision that’s right for you and your children.
HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses that affect areas of the body, including the mouth, throat and cervix. It’s spread via skin-to-skin contact.
HPV is common. About 79 million Americans are infected with HPV, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people are infected with HPV at some point in their lives without it causing harm.
In most cases, HPV goes away on its own without causing any health issues. However, the virus can linger in some people, causing their cells to divide more rapidly, eventually developing into genital warts or head, neck, oral, cervical and penile cancers.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent HPV infection. The vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is recommended by the CDC for young males and females. It’s routinely given at 11 or 12 years of age, but it may be administered anytime between the ages of 9 and 26.
Most people who get the HPV vaccine don’t experience serious reactions. Side effects may include soreness in the arm where the shot was administered, redness or swelling, mild to moderate fever and headache. These side effects are usually mild and subside on their own.
“We often advocate for HPV vaccination because of the oral cancer cases we see each year,” Zent says. Nationally, the CDC puts that number at around 50,000, with up to 70 percent of new cases attributed to HPV.
“Talk to us or your primary care physician if you or your children experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks,” Zent says:
- White or red patches in the mouth
- A sore that doesn’t heal and bleeds easily
- An abnormal lump or thickening of the tissues of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- A mass or lump in the neck
Consider vaccinating your children against HPV. It isn’t just protection for now. It’s an investment in their future.
Dr. Steve A. Zent sees patients by referral in Green Bay, Manitowoc and Sturgeon Bay. For information, please call 920-347-0400