Cervical Cancer Sexual Health

Why Aren’t We Vaccinating Our Daughters Against HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S.

HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, has been linked to cervical, anal and throat cancer. A three-shot vaccination that could cut down on the number of cases of cervical cancer has been available since 2006.
So why are so many parents reluctant to have their teenage daughters vaccinated against HPV?
A study released earlier this year examines vaccination rates among teens in this country for several illnesses, including HPV, and found parents cited “safety concerns/side effects” of the HPV vaccination as the reason they didn’t plan to have their daughters vaccinated. In 2008, 4.5 percent said safety was a concern; that number jumped to 16.4 percent in 2010. Additionally, some parents (11 percent) said they decided to forgo the HPV vaccine because their daughters weren’t sexually active.
The study’s authors call this trend “troubling” and suggest parents may be not be relying on physicians for HPV vaccination recommendations. “We have a vaccine that protects against cancer. Why not vaccinate your child?” says lead study author Paul Darden, M.D. “Parents seemed to be skeptical of its safety, which is odd, because it’s shown to be effective with few side effects.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the vaccine be administered to boys and girls at age 11 or 12, before they are sexually active.

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