Parents who refuse to have their children inoculated with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine are often in the news these days, but there is a far higher non-compliance rate when it comes to the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine.
The HPV vaccine is supposed to be given to girls and boys at about the age of 11 or 12. HPV is especially important for girls because HPV, if contracted, can lead to cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine can greatly eliminate the chances of a female getting cervical cancer.
However, many parents are refusing to have their girls vaccinated in the U.S. because the HPV virus is a sexually transmitted disease, and these parents believe that vaccinating against it is somehow advocating for teen sex.
The Centers for Disease Control noted in 2013 that only 37.6 percent of teens between the ages of 13-17 received all three stages of the HPV vaccine.
The New York Times reported in 2012 that studies have shown that almost one third of American children between 14-19 years old have HPV, and that getting the HPV vaccine doesn't alter sexual activity or non-activity.
A new study by medical researchers from Harvard and USC recently found that girls who get the HPV vaccine are not more sexually active than their peers who do not, reports Slate.com.
However, this debunked "HPV-vaccine-causes-sex" belief is not confined to the U.S.
Wealthy parents of Pakeha girls (light-skinned, European decent) in New Zealand don't believe their daughters need the HPV vaccine because they are not having sex.
"It's the 'white girls don't have sex [theory] so white girls don't need it.' That's what it's all about, I think," postgraduate researcher Karen Page told The New Zealand Herald on Sunday.
The newspaper claims that almost 50 percent of 15 year olds in New Zealand are having sex, and nearly 80 percent of adults in the country get HPV, setting the women up for possible cervical cancer.
New Zealand offers the HPV vaccine for free to girls between the ages of 8-12, but the children must have parental consent. Only 58 percent of New Zealand girls are believed to have been vaccinated for HPV, while the UK has a 86 percent rate and neighboring Australia tops 70 percent.
"If there was any other vaccine that reduced cancers as much as this vaccine you would happily sign up for it and you would happily sign your children up for it," Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond stated.