Is the HPV vaccine necessary?

by Evie Polsley

As the school year starts in full swing many parents wonder if their child should receive the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for girls ages 11-26 and boys 11-21. There are a lot of questions and controversy around this vaccine, but many pediatricians say it comes down to protecting people from a leading cause of death.

"I often have parents ask me if their child should get the HPV and what are my thoughts about giving it. Some parents are concerned it will promote , others think it is unnecessary and others think their child is too young. If the child falls between the recommended ages given by the American Academy of Pediatrics, I strongly recommend the vaccination. It really could be the difference between life and death," said Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

According to Chow, there are only two shots that can prevent cancer. One is for hepatitis B and the other is the (HPV) vaccine. HPV is the most common and is known to cause several different types of cancer, including cervical cancer, which is the second most fatal cancer for women.

"Parents need to take into consideration the anti-cancer benefits when considering if they want their child to receive the HPV vaccine," Chow said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 20 million people in the U.S. infected with HPV and at least half of these are between the ages of 15-25.

HPV is transmitted through intercourse and genital contact. Both men and women can harbor the virus, which can remain in a person for years after the initial infection.

"One of the scary aspects of HPV is that a person can be infected and not even know it. He or she may have no symptoms at all and still be spreading the virus," Chow said. "This is why I strongly believe in vaccinating males and females early, well before any exposure takes place."

Prevention is critical when it comes to HPV. According to Chow, the vaccine's protection rate is 93 percent when given before any exposure. After exposure the vaccine doesn't treat pre-existing viruses but will help protect against future exposure.

"HPV is a very dangerous virus that can lead to death. Since there is no cure, prevention is all the more important. This vaccine could save the life of your ," Chow said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Report: Teen HPV vaccination rate still lagging

Jul 25, 2013

(AP)—Disappointed health officials say only about half of teenage girls have gotten a controversial vaccine against cervical cancer—a rate that's changed little in three years.

Incomplete HPV vaccination may offer some protection

Jul 24, 2014

Minority women who received the Human Papillomavirus Vaccination (HPV) even after becoming sexually active had lower rates of abnormal Pap test results than those who were never vaccinated. These findings appear in the journal ...

Recommended for you

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet Aug 29, 2014
Note that the cancers the HPV vaccine help prevent are insidious, nasty and hard to treat.

I don't know if the HPV virus can be transferred at birth...

Consider this vaccine like an 'Anti-Tetanus' injection. It does not promote risky behaviour, it is a life-saver in case of accident.

Declaration of interest: A close family member developed bladder cancer due accidental HPV infection, endured heroic treatment but still died horribly. Don't go there.
AlexCoe
not rated yet Aug 30, 2014
It's hard to really take all of the article serious when it contains a glaring error. HPV may not be spread by just sexual means, yes folks that's right NOT just a STD. Nearly 80%, some sources say 90% of us 50 yrs and older have had it, most without ever knowing.

As someone who is recovering from HPV16+ squamous cell carcinoma of the left tonsil, chemo, radiation, at 2 years, removal of 1 cm tumor that reoccurred with no clear margin to the carotid artery. Last December they did a radical neck dissection and TORS surgery. 11.5 hours of surgery and months of recovery, that still continues...

If that can be eliminated from someones future, it would be wise to avoid the hell of medical treatment!