COMMENTARY

The First Cervical Cancer Vaccine: Use It

Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD

Disclosures

August 22, 2013

Why Parents Won't Vaccinate Their Children

The top 5 reasons parents give for not vaccinating their children were presented at the June Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting. The most common one given is that the vaccine is not needed or not necessary. Many parents don't allow vaccination because they say their children aren't sexually active. Safety concerns and side effects are often cited. Lack of knowledge is admitted by some. Some parents say the vaccine was not recommended by their provider.

The truth is that the HPV vaccine is a prophylactic vaccine. It can prevent many cancers, but it works best if given before exposure to the virus, which usually occurs at the onset of sexual activity. It also works best when given to adolescents because they have a more robust immune response. That is why ACIP recommends starting the series at age 11 or 12.

Safety has been shown in numbers. About 56 million doses have been distributed in the United States since 2006. No new safety concerns have been identified. Syncope after injection has been reported as an adverse effect. Although HPV vaccination is not recommended during pregnancy, registry data have not raised any vaccine safety concerns. Physicians and other healthcare professionals dispel the myths. Educate your patients and their parents. Moms and dads, get your kids vaccinated. The HPV vaccine prevents cancer and can save thousands of lives. For Medicine Matters, I'm Dr. Sandra Fryhofer.

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