The HPV vaccine is working

This week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report that shows since the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine was introduced in 2006, HPV infections

have dropped by 64% among females aged 14 to 19 years and by 34% among those aged 20 to 24 years.

That’s great news. HPV is responsible for most forms of cervical cancer, as well as an increasing number of rectal and oral cancers.

Related post: HPV and cancer

But we can do better.

The American Cancer Society reports that only about 40% of girls and 21% of boys have received the recommended 3 doses of the HPV vaccine.

So why aren’t more parents leaping at the chance to protect their children from an extremely common sexually-transmitted disease that increases the risk of several forms of cancer?

Related resource from the Centers for Disease Control: HPV Fact Sheet

Partly because of the expense and inconvenience. Gardasil, the most frequently prescribed vaccine, costs about $150 per dose, and you need 3. That’s a lot of time and money.

But vaccines should be covered by your health insurance under the ACA’s preventive health benefits. Call your insurance company for more information.

For children who are not insured, the Vaccines for Children program may be able to help.

Another reason is that there has been a lot of misinformation spread via scary anti-vaxxer emails and websites.

I think the pediatrician/blogger, Aaron Carroll, MD, does an excellent job addressing these fears in his Healthcare Triage video series.

The vaccine is safe, too….more than 46 million doses of the vaccine have been given in the United States. Initial studies conducted before FDA approval found no serious side effects. A recent safety review by the FDA and the CDC found reports to the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System have been consistent with those pre-approval safety studies. In fact, the CDC has investigated many of the deaths allegedly attributed to the vaccine and found that there’s no consistent pattern, and nothing that links them to getting the immunization.

While I have at times been critical that the FDA approves drugs before their safety is assured, that is because drug studies often involve only a small number of subjects. Because the HPV vaccine has been used well over 46 million times (Dr. Carroll’s number was actually from two years ago), I feel confident telling people that it is safe.

I hope that this latest information about the vaccine’s effectiveness will encourage more parents to make sure their kids get it.

Sláinte,

Frugal Nurse

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