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Why should my child have the vaccine aged 12 or 13?

Cancer Council recommends the vaccine be given to people aged 12–13.

The vaccine works best if it is given before exposure to HPV – that is, before sexual activity commences.

Also, research shows that younger people create more antibodies when given the vaccine than when in their late teens. This means they are better protected if they are exposed to HPV in the future.

Sexual activity may be a long way off for your child. Feeling you'd prefer to wait ‘until they need it' is natural, but some young people may find it awkward to tell a parent or guardian they are thinking about becoming sexually active.

You are not endorsing or promoting sexual activity if you decide to vaccinate your child.

There is no evidence that boys or girls who receive the vaccine have sex earlier than those who do not have the vaccine, and nor do they have more sexual parrtners once they become sexually active.

Having the HPV vaccine is the same as any other vaccine – it is to protect your child over the course of their life, not because they are likely to be exposed to HPV in the near future.

If your child has the vaccine now, when they are older and thinking about intimate relationships, you can feel confident that you have done your best to protect them from HPV and some of the diseases it can cause.

The vaccine will not protect your child from other sexually transmitted infections or prevent pregnancy, so it will still be important to discuss the importance of safe sex before they become sexually active.

Remember that while condoms will protect your child against most sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, they only offer partial protection from HPV as they don't cover all of the genital skin.

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Design and partial content reproduced with the kind permission of the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

The HPV vaccine is a prescription medicine. Medicines have benefits and risks. After reading this website, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of this vaccine and to check eligibility.

Females who have had the HPV vaccine still need regular Pap tests.