Expanded: Q: I've heard about this new vaccine for teenage girls. But I'm not sure my 14-year-old daughter needs it since she's not sexually active. What should I do?
A: The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine actually has the best chance of protecting against infection if the series of three shots is given before a girl becomes sexually active. Some strains of HPV that are spread through sexual contact are known to cause cervical cancer. HPV is extremely common, affecting more than half of sexually active people at some point in their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of those infected are ages 14 to 24.
While a girl may not be sexually active now, she likely will be at some point in her life. Girls may contract HPV in their teenage or young adult years, and then develop cervical cancer years later.