HPV vaccine important
to protect children
HPV vaccination among U.S. teens remains low despite a slight increase from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Partnership for Women and Families.
As a parent and a practicing clinician, the fact that many of our children are missing an opportunity to get protected against HPV, short for the human papillomavirus (a common sexually transmitted disease) and related cancers concerns me. Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in 2006, the number of cervical cancer cases has been cut in half. In half. That’s monumental. We know this vaccine works, and we need to use it to the fullest extent possible.
The vaccine is safe, too. In the more than 67 million doses given thus far, no serious safety events have occurred. The most commonly reported event is fainting, which happens with other vaccines given to teens, as well, leading to our usual practice of having teens sit for 15 minutes after vaccination.
HPV infects about 79 million Americans, 14 million of whom become infected each year. About 21,000 women are affected by cancer linked with HPV, and cervical cancer is the most common. More than 4,000 women, usually in child-bearing years, die of cervical cancer. It’s also associated with other cancers, such as those that affect the throat, tongue and tonsils, in men. But the infection that causes these cancers can be prevented with the vaccine series. What parent wouldn’t want his or her child to be protected against cancer?