As you may have heard yesterday, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is recommending that all preteen children, not just girls, get the HPV vaccine. The hope among public health experts is that widespread vaccination will lead to immunity to the virus and, eventually, cut rates of certain types of cancer.
In today's San Francisco Chronicle, writer Erin Allday explores the issue and discusses some parents' concerns with the vaccine:
...Pediatricians say there's been clear discomfort among parents of preteen daughters to give their children a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. The current political climate - with controversy in Texas over making the vaccine mandatory, and misleading comments from a potential presidential candidate about possible side effects - hasn't helped, they said....
[Stanford's Paula Hillard, MD,] said some doctors, in talking to parents, are choosing to emphasize the vaccine as a tool to prevent cancer, glossing over the role of HPV. "The messaging is important," she said. "And cancer prevention may be an easier message for parents than STD prevention."
Still, she said, parents of preteen girls will often tell her they want to wait a little longer to vaccinate their children.
"The one thing I hear over and over again from parents is, 'We'll give it to her when she goes off to college,' Hillard said. "Our current statistics are 50 percent of 17-year-olds have had intercourse. College may be too late. But parents don't want to think too much about that."
Hillard, who specializes in adolescent gynecology, told me yesterday that she strongly endorses the vaccine for both girls and boys.
Previously: Only one-third of teenage girls get HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer
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