Fewer parents choosing to vaccinate for HPV

By Sheryl Kay • Published: June 19th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Doctors have come to rely on several methods in the battle against cancer, but there are still very few techniques that work to stop it in the first place.

One of the well-explored preventives include anticancer vaccines used to combat viruses linked to certain types of cancer. The vaccines prevent the virus, thereby halting the development of cancer.

Several years ago researchers noted such an association between the then-new HPV vaccine and cervical cancer. The vaccine, which is a series of three shots, works to prevent the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts and has been consistently linked to cervical cancer. Since that time, numerous studies have confirmed the efficacy of the vaccine and the limited number of side effects.

Still, despite the positive findings, it appears fewer parents are choosing to vaccinate their daughters for HPV.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics analyzed the vaccine data of children ages 13 to 17. Phone interviews were conducted with 100,000 parents in this first-of-its-kind survey to obtain the vaccine histories of the children. The researchers found that even though physicians are increasingly recommending the adolescent vaccination, more than two in five parents believed the vaccine was not necessary.

Five years ago, 40 percent of parents said they would not vaccinate for HPV. Two years later, that number had risen to 44 percent.

While the researchers noted several possible reasons that may have led to the parents’ hesitation, none of those could possibly supersede the importance of vaccination. Given the absolute relationship between the virus and cervical cancer, the study was clear in recommending that all parents vaccinate their children for HPV.

As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.