HPV, Human Papilloma Virus, infects approximately 14 million per year in the U.S. according to the CDC. The virus can affect both men and women, causing genital warts and even worse, vaginal, vulvar, penile and, anal cancers.
The HPV vaccine was approve back in 2006 and is available to those from the ages of 9 to 26. But why do people avoid this shot and disbelieve its effectiveness?
The HPV vaccine is the only vaccine out there with the intention of preventing cancer but why do people avoid it so? It has been on the market for about a decade and only 1 out of 5 parents believe that it should be a requirement for schools.
A national study revealed an interesting fact about the approval status of a required HPV vaccine. 21% of parents in the study believed that laws requiring the HPV vaccine was a good idea but when given the opt-out option, the number jumped to 57%.
“It’s interesting; if you had opt-out provisions, it tripled their support, but we know from previous research that if you add the opt-out provisions, you will make the law less effective,” says William Calo, the study’s lead author who is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of North Carolina.
This reveals a solution but with its own problem. The opt-out option helps raise approval ratings but those people who didn’t agree with it initially, will most likely opt-out. The purpose of the vaccine is to make sure people receive it. It could save an estimated of 30,000 people a year, they want to make sure people take it.
The vaccine is recommended by the CDC for children between the ages of 11 and 12. They also boasts that it is one of the strongest and effective vaccines. It can prevent almost all cervical cancer, 95% of anal cancer, and 70% of throat and neck cancers. It also prevents a large portion of vaginal, vulvar and penile cancer.
The main issue with the acceptance of this vaccine is the lack of knowledge about the HPV. Only 40% of parents believed that it prevented cervical cancer and 25% wrongfully believed that vaccine caused health issues. One third of the parents believe it was just a ploy by the pharmaceutical companies, just to make money.
“We need to do a better job informing parents about the real benefits of these vaccines, not only for school requirements but for potentially saving the lives of their kids in the future. I think as parents know and understand the benefits of HPV vaccination, they will support introducing laws requiring it for school entry,” says Calo.
HPV vaccine should be on the list, right next to Tdap and meningococcal vaccines for school requirements. It prevents cancer. Isn’t that what every medical researcher is out there trying to do? Cure cancer? We have it in front of us, why would we push it away?