The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) has reported some disturbing news this week about uptake rates of the vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It appears that even though the vaccine has been proven to prevent cancer and is readily available, parents and their teens are still not electing to receive it.
HPV is a virus that causes warts and other lesions. NBC reports that as many as two-thirds of the American population are currently carrying the disease and that there are 109 different known types of the virus. However, the two strains that are most likely to cause cancer are HPV 16 and HPV 18. They can lead to cancers of the mouth, throat, cervix, penis and anus of those who are infected.
In the last decade, vaccines have been developed to prevent the most dangerous strains of the virus. They’ve been available to parents as an elective since 2006, when children receive their Meningitis, Tetanus and Whooping cough shots at the doctor, but this week’s report shows that parents are still not being proactive.
The CDC says that despite the known success of the vaccine, only a third of the girls who are eligible have received all three doses, and the numbers are worse for boys, with only 35% having received at least one.
The University of Minnesota reported that both boys and girls should begin receiving the first of three doses of the vaccine at 11 or 12 years old. When administered early like this, it has been shown to be an effective preventative measure against cancer, even though the child may not yet be sexually active.
Statistics show that over 79 million Americans are carrying HPV and because of this have an increased risk of developing cancer. So why aren’t we following the doctor’s orders?
The CDC says, “one of the top five reasons parents listed was that it hadn’t been recommended”, but there are surely other factors involved in the decision.
Cost for one. Some may be balking at the idea of extra medical bills. But if you have insurance, your policy may cover it, and if you’re on a lower income, the Health Department offers free and discounted shots.
Then there’s the “it’s not going to happen me,” head-in-the-sand attitude that many people have towards cancer. But the facts are this, with more and more cancers being diagnosed every day, we need to wake up and realise that protecting our children against that risk is surely the best bet.
(Photo courtesy of pahowho)