KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys to protect against the sexually-transmitted virus that causes some cancers and genital warts. New findings could allay parents' fears that their kids will be more likely to start having sex after getting the vaccine.
Quentin Young is old enough to make his own decision about getting the HPV vaccine at Children's Mercy Hospital's adolescent clinic.
"Because I heard there's like 20 million people -- Americans -- are infected by this, so I decided to go ahead and take a shot," said Young.
It's a three-shot series to protect against the Human Papillomavirus which is sexually-transmitted. It's recommended for boys and girls at age 11 or 12, and also for older teens and young adults who haven't had the shots already.
Vaccination rates remain low. One survey found a quarter of parents don't want their kids vaccinated because they fear their kids will start having sex earlier after getting the protection.
"We've believed for quite some time that receiving the HPV vaccine does not change one's thought process related to sex or behaviors related to sex," said Stephani Stancil, a nurse practitioner.
A new study of girls ages 13 to 21 confirms that. Those who weren't sexually active were not more likely to start having sex. Thos who were already active didn't take greater risks. That was in the six months after being vaccinated.
The nurse practitioner hopes the research will put the concern to rest and result in more kids getting HPV shots. She knows some parents also worry about safety.
"Over 55 million doses have been administered with no serious side effect linked to the vaccine," said Stancil.
Some pain is common with the shot.
"It's a little bit hurt right now, but I get used to it," said Young after being vaccinated.
It's unlikely he'll have any other problems from the shot.
The study is published in the journal, Pediatrics.