The news of the availability of the vaccine stirred controversy at the time (probably because the word “sex” is involved — perhaps trumping the words “prevention” and “cancer”).
The vaccine protects against the spread of a virus that is sexually transmitted — but is recommended for girls when they are at an age where they are not likely to be sexually active.
But girls do become sexually active, and no parent can predict when that will be. And even those who practice abstinence could be exposed to HPV through sexual assault or marriage to an infected partner.
One Scottsdale pediatrician we spoke to, Dr. Richard Resnick of Papago Buttes Pediatrics, wisely noted that as children mature, it is often difficult for parents to know what turns and twists lay in the road ahead.
As parents learned about the safety of the vaccine, he thought reluctance to vaccinate would fade, and that seems to be true. There’s now a version of the vaccine available for boys, too, that prevents the genital warts and anal cancer that is caused by the virus.
But as politicians stir the pot in this pre-election season, and issue opinions and hearsay about the safety of this vaccine, we’d like to say this:
We’ve always strived to do the best we can to share health information from experts in the field of medicine. We cringe when the amateurs, especially those with access to large audiences, throw their two cents in to the ring about issues surrounding children’s health, vaccines and disease prevention.
Spreading nasty rumors about medical treatments that save lives causes harm; choosing to believe in urban legends instead of real science leads to loss and heartbreak.
Below is a statement recently issued by the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics O. Marion Burton, M.D., FAAP. He’s one of the experts — not a politician.
We hope that his statement about the vaccine will resonate louder than the ubiquitous sound bites from politicians who show little respect for the practice of medicine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation.
There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. That’s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because it’s important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity.
In the U.S., about 6 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.