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Why is the HPV vaccine given to boys and girls at such an early age?

Martin M. Anderson, MD
Pediatrics
Although national health authorities now recommend that 11-year-old girls and boys receive either the Gardasil or Cervarix vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), only 36% of teenage girls and 1% of teenage boys have received the full dose. This is mostly because parents mistakenly think their children don’t need the vaccine if they aren’t sexually active.
 
The reason doctors give it so early is they want to protect boys and girls from the disease before there is any sexual contact. Also, the vaccine is more likely to work when children are younger because their immune systems respond better to it.
“The reason we give the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine so early is we want to protect boys and girls from the disease before there is any sexual contact,” says Martin Anderson, M.D., director of adolescent medicine at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. “Also, the vaccine is more likely to be effective when children are younger because their immune systems respond better to it.”

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