OK guys, I’m just gonna be completely frank here. I don’t understand why parents don’t want this vaccine for their kids. They tell me things like this – “I’ve just heard so many bad things about the side effects.”, “I just don’t think she needs it.”, “it’s just so dangerous/risky”, “I just think it hasn’t been studied enough, I wish there was more research about it” Most of the time, they have been reading scary stuff on the internet but no one has shown them the facts, the safety data, the efficacy data. Clearly parents are terrified of this vaccine. I get why anti-vaxers hate this vaccine, they hate all vaccines. What I can’t figure out is why parents who otherwise give every vaccine on time every time won’t get this one for their kids and they won’t have a frank conversation with me about it. I don’t get it. I am at a loss, bewildered, defeated and sad.
Here’s the truth – the HPV vaccine is one of the safest vaccines on the market. It is safer than the MMR. It is safer than acellular pertussis. It is safer than Varicella. It is also extremely effective at its job, which is to prevent CANCER. Human papilloma virus comes in dozens of strains. Some of them cause ordinary warts that you get on your fingers and feet. Some of them cause genital warts. Some of them are no threat to us at all. And some of them cause cancer of the cervix and vulva in women and of the penis, rectum and oropharynx in men. Cervical cancers are typically treatable, but not always. Even those that are successfully treated often carry the burden of going through invasive surgery and chemotherapy. Women can lose their ability to carry children. Pharyngeal cancers in men have a far worse prognosis. We don’t even have an effective way to screen for them and catch them early like we can with cervical cancer. The studies tell me that people give weight to what their pediatrician does for their own child. My boys are getting this one when they’re nine.
I often have parents decline this vaccine at age 11 with the intention of giving it later. They don’t expect their 11 year old to be exposed to this virus for a few years and they’re right. However, our best evidence shows us that kids mount a better, longer lasting response if they get it before age 15 so if you’re delaying, please do get it done by then. The HPV vaccine works, it’s safe, it does not give your child permission to go out and have sex any earlier (truly, most of them don’t even really understand what it’s for, I just tell them it prevents cancer of their private parts). If you have heard some specific scary story or have specific questions or concerns, PLEASE comment. At least give me a chance to reassure you and find you some good information. But first, read my links.