The HPV Vaccine: Health 101

Why do girls or women need the vaccine if they're not sexually active?

"The recommended HPV vaccine schedule was purposefully designed to vaccinate young girls before they start having sex, says Neal Halsey, MD, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland and a member of the Parents magazine board of advisors. That's because the vaccine is most effective in girls who have not yet acquired any of the four HPV strains the vaccine protects against. HPV is so common that once your daughter becomes sexually active, her risk of contracting it increases immediately. There's no evidence that the vaccine fights off HPV strains your daughter may have been exposed to already, but it will protect her against the strains she hasn't.

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