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Vaccinate your child against HPV

  • Vaccinate your child against HPV

    What if you had the chance while your child was still young to protect your daughter against a deadly cancer simply by signing her up for a shot?

    Cervical cancer, or uterine cervical carcinoma, is diagnosed in 40,000 women across Europe each year, and is the second leading cause of death in women between the ages of 15 and 44. If caught early through annual Pap smears and cervical exams, it is a highly curable disease, but now gynecologists have an even more effective prevention method they can offer to their patients.

    “No one needs to die from cervical cancer, now that the HPV vaccine is available,” says Dr. Elena Figurova, founder and lead physician at the OG Medical Centre. “The vaccine very effectively eliminates the virus that is a major cause of cervical cancer, stopping a killer in its tracks.”

    HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. From the moment a girl or woman becomes sexually active, she has more than a 50% chance of catching a form of HPV. Once caught, that viral strain can cause genital warts or cervical cancer years later.

    That’s why pediatricians and gynecologists recommend that parents get their daughters vaccinated between the ages of 11 and 12, before they become sexually active and at a moment in their lives when they have a very robust immune system.

    “Once a young woman becomes infected with HPV, if she gets the vaccine later, it won’t work against that particular virus. It isn’t absolutely a loss, because the vaccine is made up of four HPV strains, but it does affect the usefulness of the shots,” says Dr. Figurova.

    The vaccine, available since 2006, and already provided to millions of girls in the United States and Europe between the ages of 9 and 26, is administered in a series of three shots. “We typically give the first shot during an annual checkup, and then schedule the second and third shots across a six month period,” says Dr. Trnkova, pediatrician at the OG Medical Centre. “The vaccine is not made from live viruses, so there’s no worry about catching an infection, and the most common reaction we see is a little soreness in the arm or dizziness from the shot itself.

    “What’s fabulous about this vaccine is that by immunizing your child against a virus, you are nearly guaranteeing she will not get a very painful form of cancer years later. That’s quite a gift to offer your daughter.”