Protecting Alana's Possibilities: Starting HPV Vaccination at Age 9 

This article is a continuation of  Vaccinations  Protect Children from the Biggest Bully of All – Vaccine-preventable Diseases - posted August 3, 2021 on Together by St. Jude™ (

By Julia Brown

My daughter Alana is bright, talented, beautiful, and at the tender age of 9, much braver than I. As a mother, I look at my child and see endless possibilities for her life—some of which I can influence and others which lie beyond my control. As Alana grows, I want nothing more than for her to be safe and protected. As a parent, I know I cannot protect her from everything, but I will protect her from the things I can. One of those things is protecting her from HPV cancers through on-time HPV vaccination.

HPV cancers can affect everyone—both men and women—and are best prevented by HPV vaccination in adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends giving the HPV vaccine (known as Gardasil®9) routinely to children ages 11–12 and beginning at age 9 through age 26.

HPV vaccination works. And HPV vaccination at age 9 comes with many advantages. First and foremost, Alana will be protected from 6 types of cancer when she is older.

After Alana receives 2 doses of the vaccine, she will be protected for a lifetime. We will no longer have to worry about it. She excitedly agreed that fewer shots were a bonus. So, she got her first dose of the HPV vaccine in April 2023. Now, she only needs 1 additional dose for a total of 2 doses—not the 3 that would have been required if she had gotten the vaccine after age 14. This is a win-win for Alana—and for me as her parent.

As a parent, I am pleased to know Alana is protected. The National HPV Vaccination Roundtable has many resources for starting HPV vaccination at age 9. There is also a new collection of research articles about the benefits of starting at age 9 published in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.

Alana's pediatrician made us feel comfortable and confident about vaccinating her against HPV. We value and trust her recommendation. The HPV vaccination itself was quick and easy. Alana made it look painless, but she took it like the big girl she is. Minutes after her shot, she was back to dancing, laughing, and talking nonstop. She was most proud of her Wonder Woman bandage, and all she asked for was some ice cream and quality time with me.

For our family, it made the most sense to go ahead and give her this protection. It allows us to spend less time worrying about her health and more time watching her grow up and do all the things that she loves. I know I have taken the necessary measures to ensure Alana’s safety and shield her from HPV cancers. Moreover, that is my job—to protect her. To decline a vaccine that I know could prevent her from developing cancer would not be in her best interest. I will always make the decision that I feel is best for her. For our family, that is HPV vaccination for cancer prevention. It is up to me to protect Alana’s possibilities.

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