The Journal of Pediatrics published a study in March that shows the number of teenagers being vaccinated for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is declining. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that both boys and girls receive three HPV shots as pre-teens to prevent cervical cancer.
Actor Michael Douglas recently brought HPV back to the forefront of media attention when he stated that his neck and throat cancer in 2010 was caused by HPV he contracted through oral sex. HPV is incredibly common and statistics show that 85% of the population will be infected by it at some point, with 20 million people being actively infected at any given time.
2010 statistics show that three quarters of girls age 13 to 17 were not up to date on their HPV series and 44 percent of parents didn’t plan to get their daughters the rest, or any of their HPV shots.
Multiple studies have shown that the HPV vaccine isn’t linked to any serious side effects and offers protection against the virus that causes cervical cancer. However, many sensationalized articles report girls having bad reactions to the vaccine. Natural News published a suggestive article earlier this year, linking HPV and tetanus vaccines to the autoimmune disease antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).
Dr. Amanda Dempsey is a pediatrician and vaccine researcher with the University of Colorado in Denver. “Safety concerns have always risen to the top of the pile, in terms of being one of the main reasons people don’t get vaccinated, which is unfortunate because HPV is one of the most well-studied vaccines and is extremely safe.”
Dempsey urges parents not to rely on the media or the Internet to learn about vaccines, since it’s hard to tell what information is legitimate. “If they have questions or concerns, they should trust their provider to give them information about the vaccine.”
Heather Millar is a cancer survivor and blogs for WebMD. She recently posted about Michael Douglas and HPV and notes, “Yet here’s one thing we can absolutely do to prevent cancer: The CDC recommends the HPV vaccines.”
The CDC does state that in rare cases, vaccines cause side effects, but 90% of the time the side effects are mild like a fever or soreness. Serious side effects are only shown in less than 1% of those vaccinated. Millar comments on the harrowing experiences of cancer treatment and notes that she can’t imagine skipping a vaccine that might prevent cancer.
In a write-up about the Hepatitis A vaccine, CDC states, “…the vaccine is much safer than getting the disease.” This statement is true of all the vaccines recommended by CDC.
“The most serious popular notions about vaccines, such as the idea that some of them can cause autism, have been disproved again and again,” Millar states. “Remember: vaccines are given to prevent diseases that used to kill people in the tens of millions.”
Vaccine Watch encourages all parents to speak with their pediatrician about the risks and benefits of the HPV vaccine. This series of shots is a simple preventative measure that protects boys and girls from the dangers of cervical, throat and neck cancer.