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Kids should be vaccinated against cervical cancer
March 18, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
This morning when I had a routine checkup with a new doctor, she asked me the standard questions, including what vaccines I have been given. As an informed, adult patient, I know what vaccines are available and which ones I want and which I am willing to put off getting.
The tetanus shot, for instance, was a no-brainer a year and a half ago when there was a good chance I might be asked to walk around flooded houses. The flu shot, on the other hand, is a vaccine I know I should get but usually don't. The one year I did get it was the year I was miserably sick. I know intellectually this was probably some unrelated stomach virus but I still find myself making the association between the flu shot and unpleasant illness. I know I am taking some calculated risks with my health by not getting the flu shot, but as an adult that's my prerogative. I don't work in a health care facility or live or work around children, so I am unlikely to put other people at risk if I did get the flu and, if I did, I would stay home until I recovered.
It may be hypocritical of me, but those aren't risks I'd be willing to take with a child's health That's one of the reasons I was a little dismayed by the latest story on the wire about parents refusing to get their kids a vaccine that could prevent cervical cancer when they are adults. Only about one-third of kids have received the vaccine; 16 percent of parents cited safety concerns, even though the vaccine is safe, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. Seventeen percent said they weren't vaccinating their children because the vaccine isn't needed or necessary. Some of these are probably the usual vaccine refusers, the parents who believe that the measles vaccine puts kids at risk of autism, despite all evidence to the contrary. A lot of them, though, have vaccinated their children against other diseases but for some reason have avoided the HPV vaccine.
Some parents may be delaying the shot under the assumption that their child will not be sexually active as a teenager and will not be at risk of contracting the HPV virus. Some may think that vaccinating their children may in some way encourage them to become sexually active as teens. Both lines of reasoning are faulty, since so many kids are sexually active by the time they graduate high school and even a young person who has only one partner can be exposed to the virus if his or her significant other was infected by another sexual partner.
Not necessary? Really? How many women do they know who've had cervical cancer? Someone I know nearly died of it and I would hope most parents would do anything in their power to save their kids from that painful and potentially deadly cancer. I would get it myself if not for the fact that the vaccine is most effective in people younger than 26 who have never been exposed to the HPV virus.
Here's hoping that more of those parents wise up and protect their sons and daughters against cancer.
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