Vaccine Helps Prevent Cancer, Some Parents Oppose It


A new federal study has found that a vaccine reduced cases of the human papillomavirus virus (HPV) in teen girls by almost two-thirds.

The sexually transmitted virus, which can cause cervical cancer, has gone down by more than one-third in 20-something women, thanks to the HPV vaccine, noted the study.

“We’re seeing the impact of the vaccine as it marches down the line for age groups, and that’s incredibly exciting,” Dr. Amy B. Middleman, the chief of adolescent medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, told The New York Times.

“A minority of females in this country have been immunized, but we’re seeing a public health impact that is quite expansive,” Middleman, who was not involved in the study, added.

“The vaccine is more effective than we thought,” Debbie Saslow, an expert in HPV vaccination and cervical cancer at the American Cancer Society, stated.

Despite the HPV vaccine’s success, only about 40 percent of girls between the ages of 13 to 17 have been vaccinated in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states: “About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.”

HPV doesn’t always lead to cancer (cervical, anal, penile, and mouth and throat), but the CDC recommends that all children between 11 to 12 years old be vaccinated.

A 2013 study by the Mayo Clinic and other researchers found that "[m]ore than 2 in 5 parents surveyed believe the HPV vaccine is unnecessary, and a growing number worry about potential side effects."

HealthDay News reported in 2013 that some parents were avoiding the vaccine because they feared their teens would become sexually active after being vaccinated and/or because of the cost, which is $130 per shot with a total of three doses.

Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America opposed mandates requiring children to be vaccinated, reported The Christian Post in 2007.

CDC Director Tom Frieden said in 2013: “Unfortunately only one third of girls aged 13-17 have been fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine. Countries such as Rwanda have vaccinated more than 80 percent of their teen girls."

"Our low vaccination rates represent 50,000 preventable tragedies — 50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer over their lifetime that would have been prevented if we reach 80 percent vaccination rates," Frieden added. "For every year we delay in doing so, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes."

Sources: The New York Times, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2), Mayo Clinic, HealthDay News, The Christian Post / Photo credit: National Cancer Institute/Wikimedia

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