New study backs up safety of HPV vaccine for adolescents

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NEW YORK (CBS) Doctors hope a new study gives parents more reassurance that the HPV vaccine is safe. Only about half of today's adolescents are completing the vaccine, which can prevent cervical and head and neck cancers.

Twelve year-old Armany Rodriguez is getting the HPV vaccine, which protects against nine strains of the human papilloma virus.

"I think it's a good thing to protect your child from certain cancers and infections," said Lennys Pichardo, Armany's mother.

HPV is very common, with about 14 million people becoming infected with the sexually transmitted virus every year. Those infections can lead to cancers later in life for both men and women. Now, the latest research published in the journal Pediatrics is backing up previous studies about the vaccine's safety.

"The studies that were done originally were sound, the side effects are minimal, and this vaccine is extremely safe," said Dr. Jay Berger, a pediatrician with ProHEALTH Care.

Investigators reviewed reports over a three year period when 28 million doses of the vaccine were given. Ninety-seven percent of side effects were classified as non-serious and included headache, dizziness, fainting and irritation where the shot was given. Another recent study shows the vaccine can prevent about 92-percent of HPV-related cancers.

It's recommended girls and boys get two doses at 11 to 12 years old. A third dose is necessary if you start the vaccine over age 15. "We need to get the vaccine in way before we are thinking about sexual exposure," Berger said.

He says the body also has a better response when the vaccine is given at a younger age.

Armany is getting his second dose. "I choose to vaccine him to prevent getting those cancers in the future," said his mother.

Doctors hope the latest science will encourage more parents to protect their children.