Cancer Centers Issue National Call: Parents, Vaccinate Your Kids for HPV
Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), all 69 of the U.S. National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers have just issued a joint statement calling upon parents and pediatricians to increase HPV vaccination rates by endorsing recently revised CDC guidelines.
The new guidelines recommend that both boys and girls younger than 15 receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart (rather than three), while 15- to 26-year-old males and females who remain unvaccinated should continue to complete the three-shot series.
Currently, only 41 percent of girls and 28 percent of boys in the U.S. have completed the recommended vaccine series, which experts say will prevent 40,000 cases of HPV-associated cancers in the U.S. each year.
Why? Part of the reason seems to be a lack of strong recommendations from physicians, and parents who don't understand that the vaccine protects against several types of cancer.
"Parents rely heavily on the recommendations of their child's health care provider for appropriate vaccination, and the medical community simply isn't consistently recommending the HPV vaccine like they do other public health prevention vaccines," said Electra Paskett, Ph.D., associate director for population sciences at OSUCCC – James. "This represents the No. 1 barrier to HPV vaccination and must change to reduce the burden of HPV-associated cancers in our community."
According to Dr. Paskett, HPV vaccines have passed extensive safety testing before and after being approved by the FDA, and are given in childhood in order to give kids the maximum protection against HPV infection before transmission contact occurs.
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"As a global community, we need to unite around HPV vaccination as a true means of cancer prevention," she explained. "I am a cancer control researcher but I'm also a parent of three boys. The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention and our best defense in stopping HPV infection in our youth and preventing HPV-associated cancers in our communities. Don't let your kids become our cancer patients."