I don’t exactly make it a secret how I feel about getting my kids vaccinated, as you can read in previous posts. I think a majority (NOT all mind you) of people who choose to opt-out of vaccinations are buying into a misinformation and unproven theories. While my first instinct is to shrug my shoulders and let people make decisions for themselves, it’s hard when I am very aware that a serious drop in vaccinations within my community could put my own children at risk. Over the last year outbreaks of diseases that had previously been under control, like measles and whooping cough have made a comeback. And measles cases in the United States suddenly reached a 15-year high last spring, this coincides with a decrease in vaccinations.
As I mentioned I do believe a good majority of the people not vaccinating their children are making that decision based on misinformation and nothing has proven that truer than what we’ve seen happen in the news lately regarding one of the newest vaccines, the HPV vaccine. Here is a vaccine that protects against the human papillomavirus virus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer.
This is a vaccine that can prevent a cancer causing infection. The American Academy of Pediatrics, The FDA, and the entire medical community stands unified in the use of the HPV vaccine in children ages’ 11- 16.
There have been more than a quarter of girls and women ages 14 to 49 who have been infected, with the highest rate, 44 percent, in those ages 20 to 24. In fact researchers believe more than half of all adults have been infected with HPV at one point in their lives. While most people are able to fight of the virus, it is in the people who are unable to fight off the virus that it turns into cancer. HPV has been found to cause cancers of the penis, anus, vagina, vulva and parts of the throat.
12,000 cases of cervical cancer and 4,000 deaths happen every year in the United States. Studies show that the HPV vaccines were 93 to 100 percent effective at preventing infection with HPV Type 16 and Type 18, the two most common cancer-causing strains of the virus.
So if the facts are all in order and the medical community all in agreement, why is the CDC reporting that last year only 32 percent of teenage girls received all three shots needed to prevent HPV infection? And why are those numbers expected to drop even more significantly this year?
First of all the aforementioned misinformation regarding vaccines. Despite the facts, people still fear vaccines. The HPV vaccine has been found to be safe. This report still recommends the HPV vaccine and has deemed it safe despite finding “strong and generally suggestive” — though not conclusive — evidence that the vaccine could cause severe allergic reactions in some rare occasions. As someone who is dangerously allergic to penicillin and guefesinin (a simple expectorant found in many cold medicines). I’ve learned to live with the fact that every medicine or vaccine has a small pool of people who are allergic to it. This includes ibuprofen, acetemiphen, and aspirin. As rare as they may be, they exist and will always exist. That’s no reason to put young people at risk for cancer.
The second reason the medical community is having a hard time getting people to vaccinate their children with the HPV vaccine, is that the infection it prevents is sexually transmitted. Sex is something your child is going to grow up and do at some point. Unless you’ve already made arrangement for them to join a convent or monastery and have somehow guaranteed that they will never want to marry or have children of their own–your child will someday have sex. Protecting your child from an infection that effects half the population and could lead to your child having cancer is NOT encouraging your 11 year old to start having sex. It just isn’t. So get over it. What is IS doing is taking preventative measures to prevent cancer in one of the people you love and cherish most.
Another reason we can unfortunately expect to see a decline in vaccines is Representative Michele Bachmann, candidate for president who claimed the vaccine was “dangerous.” Medical experts of course quickly came to the defense of the vaccine, but her words have already created more fear regarding the HPV vaccine, despite being completely false. The harm to public health caused by such flagrant disregard for public safety in the political arena by Bachman is already done. “These things always set you back about three years, which is exactly what we can’t afford,” said Dr. Rodney E. Willoughby, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a member of the committee on infectious diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The bottom line is that the HPV vaccine is a SAFE vaccine that the medical community agrees prevents cancer. Really, this should be a no brainer. If your child is between the ages 11 or 16 and has not had the HPV vaccine, please visit your pediatrician and ask about it.
One in three people will get cancer. If you have a chance to protect your child from being that one, shouldn’t you?