January is Cervical Cancer Prevention Month, and the most important thing for you to know is that cervical cancer is preventable with the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine has been around since 2006, and since it was introduced, HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 88% among teen girls and 81% among adult women.
But the vaccine isn’t just for girls/women! The CDC recommends the vaccine for ALL CHILDREN between ages 11-12 (and it can be given as young as age 9). The reason it’s recommended at a young age is because the HPV vaccine is most effective if it is given before sexual debut.
The vaccine is a series of two shots, given 6-12 months apart, if the first dose is given before age 15. After age 15, it is a series of three shots.
“But I’m an adult now! I missed my chance!” Probably not! The HPV vaccine is recommended for everyone until age 26, and even after age 26 you can speak with your doctor about receiving the series through age 45. The series will not be as effective as if you had received it before sexual debut, but it can still help to prevent HPV cancers and genital warts.