Do you have a teenager? If so, have they received their HPV vaccine?
HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus, which may cause cervical and penile cancer, oral cancers and genital warts. There has been a vaccine available since 2007.
A recent study in the journal Pediatrics looked at vaccination rates for teens and the HPV vaccine. While 80% of teens are receiving their Tdap booster, and 63% of teens are current on their meningococcal meningitis vaccine, only 32% of teens have received all 3 doses of HPV vaccine.
Parents whose teenagers had not received a first HPV vaccine or completed the series often said that the vaccine was not needed or necessary.
Other parents whose children had not received the HPV vaccine and who did not intend to vaccinate their children stated that they were worried about the safety or side effects of the vaccine.
The HPV vaccine has had a good safety record and has been shown to be very effective in preventing HPV infections. The vaccine has been studied in the United States for amost 7 years, and in Europe and Australia for almost 10 years.
The vaccine does not treat HPV disease, but rather prevents it, so the vaccine needs to be given to adolescents prior to any exposure to the virus. While many parents feel comfortable discussing sexuality with their children, other parents are uncomfortable with vaccinating their children for a sexually transmitted disease.
Getting parents to complete the series (which is given over a 6 month period) has also been a hurdle and the vaccine is not effective until all 3 shots in the series has been completed.
If you have questions about the HPV vaccine, talk to your doctor in order that all of your questions can be answered. I know I have given my 3 children the vaccine and encourage all of my patients age 11 and older to receive the HPV vaccine series.