The HPV vaccine; I say don’t wait, vaccinate!
The HPV vaccine is recommended for all 11 and 12-year-old girls and boys….protect your child!
This week there was an article in the USA Today about the vaccination rate of our children against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) virus. A new report tells us that 22,000 Americans (both men and women) each year are afflicted with preventable cancers due to HPV. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective and has been available for 8 years, but only 1/3 of our girls have been fully immunized and only 7% of our boys have been vaccinated. This vaccine will protect our children from a family of viruses that can cause cervical, head and neck, and other cancers. Increasing our vaccination rate for our teenage girls to 80% could prevent 53,000 cases of cervical cancer in girls alive today according to the Center for Disease Control. Don’t wait, vaccinate! The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that both girls and boys receive this vaccine at their 11 or 12-year-old visit.
Why does this safe and effective vaccine have such low rates of vaccination? Pure and simple, it is difficult for parents to agree to a vaccine for their child at age 11 or 12 that protects against a virus that is sexually transmitted. In reality, 11 and 12 year olds are more likely to receive the vaccine than older adolescents. At age 11 and 12 a child is still routinely seen for health physicals in their pediatrician’s office, older adolescents are statistically seen less often. We would like to have the 3 shot series completed before children are exposed to the virus, which means the entire series must be given prior to sexual activity. Right now, over 50% of adult males and females are infected with the HPV virus.
What exactly does the vaccine prevent? In girls, it prevents against genital warts and the most common strains of HPV virus that causes cervical cancer. Boys will be protected from genital warts, oral, anal and penile cancer, and vaccinating boys will help protect against spreading the virus, which is part of public health, protecting others!
So…protect your children. You are not giving permission for early sexual activity, you are protecting BEFORE you need to be concerned. The vaccine is safe and effective. Why wouldn’t we want to protect our children just like we protect them from other diseases BEFORE they would be exposed? Just like Hepatitis B, an infant receives this series of three vaccines within the first few months of life and most Hepatitis B is transmitted by sexual activity or drug use.
I certainly do not want my children to be sexually promiscuous, but my children have received the HPV vaccine. I have no worries that receiving this vaccine will increase their risk of becoming sexually active early. I believe that instilling moral values at a young age, having many open and honest conversations about relationships and remaining very present in your child’s life is the best deterrent to promiscuity and early sexual experiences. So, in our house the philosophy has been: continue to be open and clear about our family’s values and morals from the time our children were very young through those tween and teen years; talk, talk, talk and talk some more to our teens; be truly present in all aspects of our teens’ lives, pray, and vaccinate! Protection of children’s physical and emotional health has many facets!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
- Posted in: Childhood illness ♦ Childhood safety ♦ Raising a child with character ♦ Uncategorized ♦ Vaccines
- Tagged: cervical cancer, character, controversy over HPV vaccine, family values, genital warts, HPV, immunizations, infant, morals, preschooler, risks of vaccines, school age, sexual activity in teens, sexual promiscuity in teens, STD, teen years, toddler