Over the past year, we've spent a lot of time talking about vaccines.

When will there be an effective COVID-19 vaccine? When can I get it? When will children be eligible for the vaccine? Are there side effects?

There's a new study that suggests parents have a lot of questions about another vaccine: the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine.

Researchers from the CDC analyzed data from 2012 to 2018 and found that while more doctors than ever before are recommending kids get the HPV vaccine, parents are more reluctant to agree.

Parents' reluctance to have their kids vaccinated rose from 50% to 64%, researchers found.


"Overall, more U.S. teens are getting the HPV vaccine, and the nation is making progress towards reaching the HPV vaccination goals; however, if parental reluctance continues to grow, the current rate of our progress might plateau or possibly decline," said lead study author Kalyani Sonawane, assistant professor in the department of management, policy and community health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

The study found that the most common reason parents cite for their reluctance to their children receiving the HPV vaccine is 'adverse effects.'

We understand worrying about what goes into your child's body. So we're breaking down what you need to know about HPV and the vaccine.

What is HPV?

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that is the cause of six different cancers.

HPV is nearly universal.

"Essentially, every sexually active person in the U.S. will be infected with the virus," says Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.

Most infections will resolve on their own, but some may go on to cause cancer.

These cancers—cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile and oral cancers—are preventable with the HPV vaccine.

The CDC recommends two doses of the HPV vaccine for 11- and 12-year-old boys and girls.

Why are children vaccinated so young? The goal is to vaccinate them before they come sexually active and are exposed to HPV.

"There's a vaccine that will protect them from a lifelong infection, and it's safe and effective," says Dr. Poland.

The bottom line

The CDC reports more than 120 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been distributed since it was first approved by the FDA 15 years ago.

Data continues to show that it's safe and effective.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide if your child will receive the HPV vaccine. Talk it over with your doctor. Discuss it with your child.

We know you'll make the best decision for your family.