#VaccinesWork: Your best shot at cancer prevention

Published on May 3, 2019

Updated on January 25, 2022

During the last week of April, people from around the world spread the word about World Immunization Week—a time to raise awareness about the vaccines that help protect and save millions of lives every year.

You may know that vaccines can help prevent childhood diseases like measles, mumps and chicken pox, but did you know that some vaccines can also prevent cancer?

This World Immunization Week, take some time to Think about The Link® between vaccine-preventable viruses and cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Almost all cervical cancers are linked to the human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is also linked to at least five other types of cancer, including: vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancers.

The good news is that HPV can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine. However, only half of children are up to date on the HPV vaccine. That’s much lower than other vaccines.

All boys and girls age 11-12 years old should get two doses of the HPV vaccine, but it is also available for teens and young adults. Anyone who starts the vaccine over age 15 needs three doses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently expanded the approved age for the vaccine from 26 to 45—so if you’re older than 26 and haven’t gotten the vaccine, talk with your health care professional to see if its right for you.

All three of the HPV vaccines currently on the market have gone through extensive safety testing before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to review and monitor these vaccines to make sure they’re safe.

Learn more about HPV and hear from Tony Award-winning actress Marissa Jaret Winokur about her journey with cervical cancer.

Hepatitis B

Up to 60% of all liver cancer cases worldwide are related to the hepatitis B virus—but most people who have the virus don’t know it and don’t get the treatment they need to prevent liver cancer.

Fortunately, there’s a safe and effective vaccine that protects against hepatitis B.

Children can get the first dose at birth and finish the three-to-four dose series between six and eighteen months of age. If children don’t receive it earlier, they can get it up to age 18. It’s also available for adults over 18 who are at high risk of hepatitis B infection.

Learn more about hepatitis B.

Parents: Use our Guide to Children’s Vaccinations to help plan for your child’s vaccination schedule!

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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