Q: I've heard that the HPV vaccine is recommended for girls now. Should I encourage my 13-year-old daughter to get the shot, or is that too young? Will it completely protect her from developing cervical cancer?

A: Yes, you should consider getting this vaccine for your daughter, but of course, it is a personal choice. The HPV vaccine is designed to guard against viruses that cause cervical cancer and genital warts, and it's recommended for girls and women ages 9 to 26. The vaccine is most effective when given to girls before they become sexually active, which is why it is recommended for this age group.

The vaccine has been tested around the world, and it's viewed as safe and effective by the FDA. Current studies show no serious side effects, and the vaccine will continue to be monitored. That said, it's important to remember that the HPV vaccine does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so women should continue going for regular cervical cancer screenings. According to the American Cancer Society, all women should begin having pap tests about 3 years after they become sexually active, but no later than age 21.

Dr. Wider is a physician, author, and radio host who specializes in women's health issues. She is the author of three books and has appeared as a health expert on The Today Show, CBS News, Good Day NY, FOX News and a variety of cable channels. In addition, Wider is a spokesperson for the Society for Women's Health Research and a columnist for the Society for Women's Health Research news service. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Minnesota Star Tribune, Cosmopolitan, and Self. A graduate of Princeton University, she received her medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.