Vaccinations are one of the hard parts of being a parent.
It’s never easy watching your child cry in pain, but most parents realize that vaccinations are important to their children’s health.
As children grow, there are a series of vaccinations that should be administered as they reach certain ages. And the government has required certain vaccines for children before they can enroll in school.
There is one vaccination, however, that the schools don’t currently require – and it could be deadly to your children…
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I’m talking about the HPV vaccination given during adolescence.
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is most commonly spread through sexual transmission. Just about every sexually active person will contract HPV in his or her lifetime.
In fact, there’ll be 14 million new cases this year alone.
However, most will never know, since it’s generally symptomless, and the human body can normally fight off the infection on its own.
Of 150 types of HPV, though, there are several forms known to cause cervical cancer.
Now, because the HPV vaccination isn’t currently required in most school systems, the medical field still considers the vaccination rate very low.
Current statistics from the CDC indicate that single-dose vaccinations for adolescent girls were only at 53.8%, and they dropped down to 33.4% when it came to the recommended three doses.
The HPV vaccination is still fairly new compared to other childhood vaccinations, so some parents have been leery about using it on their children.
Some of their resignation lies in the fact that it’s still a new vaccine with little history when compared to, say… the Polio vaccine. Parents also fear that the vaccine will encourage promiscuity or unsafe sexual behavior.
Worse yet, some parents are in flat-out denial about their children’s sexual behavior. But some new studies may have parents reconsidering their stance against the vaccination.
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A recent study from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center discredits parents’ fear of unsafe sex.
The study found that teens, in fact, didn’t change their behavior after receiving the vaccination. And most realized that the vaccine didn’t protect them from other STDs.
Another recent report that may sway parents’ decisions came from a study in Denmark – where the HPV vaccine has been available since 2006.
In one of the most comprehensive studies of the vaccine, they found a significant drop in lesions that could’ve eventually turned into cervical cancer.
Though the study can’t speak in terms of absolutes, scientists conclude that with fewer cases of lesions, there should be less cases of cervical cancer developing in the future.
With these new reports, one would hope that HPV vaccination rates will improve within the United States.
As it stands now, there are about 50,000 girls alive today who will develop cervical cancer in their lifetime – all because they didn’t use the vaccine. If poor vaccination rates continue, expect to add about another 4,400 to that number each year.
As a mother of two young girls, I know that when the time comes, they will, indeed, receive the vaccine. Just like I don’t want to see them in an iron lung for not getting the Polio vaccine, I also don’t want to see them dying from cervical cancer when it could have been easily prevented.
Bottom line: As knowledge and awareness spread about the dangers of HPV, the CDC and other medical professionals hope that more and more parents will opt to take advantage of the vaccine. Not only will it save lives in the future, but it’ll help reduce the burden of costs on the healthcare system. That’s something for government and school officials to consider.