There is No Justification for Not Protecting Your Children

ImageFor something that has caused cancer in 12,000 women in the United States in 2011 alone and taken 4,000 of these women’s lives, one would think that everyone would want to protect a child under their guardianship from this; however, that is not the case. Human papillomavirus (HPV) has recently become so common that about half of all men and more than three out of four women have HPV at some point in their lives. A 2010 survey conducted by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only about half of thirteen-to seventeen-year-old girls had received at least one dose of the three-part HPV vaccination series. The discrepancy between the severity of the United States’ HPV epidemic and the percentage of the population vaccinated for this virus calls for serious concern.

Human papillomavirus is a viral infection contracted by skin-to-skin contact. There are more than one hundred known strains of HPV, some of which produce warts, or papilloma, which are benign growths, such as plantar warts on the feet and common hand warts. Of these known strains, forty infect the genital area and can lead to more serious conditions; few of these HPV types can lead to cervical and other cancers. Most HPV infections have no harmful effect at all and will go away within eight to thirteen months, although some will not, and those that do not can lead to other severe diseases. HPV infections that do not go away can stay dormant and undetected in the body for years without any symptoms of high-risk types of HPV in women or men. In 2011, more than 12,000 women in the United States were expected to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 were expected to die from it. These cervical cancer cases can be attributed to the two most common strains of HPV, together causing about 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer worldwide and five percent of all cancers worldwide.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two vaccines for HPV: Gardasil and Cervarix, which are highly effective in preventing persistent infections with the two HPV types that cause most cervical and anal cancers in both men and women. Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccination that has proven to be highly. Cervarix is a bivalent vaccination, but has also been highly efficacious, at 96% effective in preventing infection. These vaccines are administered as an intramuscular injection with the second and third doses two and six months later and, as of 2009, are available to girls and boys.

These vaccinations are also controversial in the public eye. Due to the 74% annual HPV infection rate among persons 14-24 years of age, The Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that girls age 11-12 years old receive three doses of quadrivalent HPV vaccine as part of their routine adolescent immunization schedule. The CDC has just recently recommended the HPV vaccine for all boys ages 11-12 years old as well. Although necessary, people felt threatened by this age range. Some say it was the CDC’s first step toward mandating the vaccine, which is sure to ignite opposition. From a scientific standpoint their recommendation makes sense, but for others, their personal beliefs and morals say otherwise because parents are concerned with the message that the vaccination for a sexually transmitted disease at such an early age might deliver to their children.

For the parents that are concerned about a potentially “corrupting” message an HPV vaccine might present, they must consider the costs. 29.3% of 9th-grade females have engaged in sexual intercourse and 19.5% are sexually active. The vaccination is proven to be most efficacious to a person that is HPV-negative and responds better in the bodies of younger children, usually between the ages of 9 to 15, so therefore vaccinating them before they are potentially exposed to HPV is the only way to guarantee a child’s safety from contracting HPV. Some conservatives will make the same silly argument they did against girls receiving the drug: that teens will consider this a license to have sex. The vaccine is not a hall pass to reckless behavior; it’s protection from a serious disease. Parents have no way to predict or guarantee the behaviors their children will grow up to practice, but with the average age of sexual activity so low, it is only logical to protect them before that age.

This anti-vaccine movement instills the same mistrust that has led to a steady increase in the number of children dangerously skipping routine immunizations. The resistance to vaccinations and western medicine is nothing new in the United States and it certainly did not begin with HPV. The anti-vaccine movement in the United States and the United Kingdom, emerged swiftly in 1998 based primarily on one paper by British doctor Andrew Wakefield. He claimed that inoculations against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) were responsible for a rise in childhood autism cases. Wakefield’s research has since been refuted by numerous studies and declared fraudulent by the British Medical Journal.

After, Wakefield lost his British medical license for ethical violations; however, this did not seem to matter. Parents of autistic children, wanted someone or something held accountable for the terrible disease that is still a medical mystery and effects their children. Wakefield, despite his standing in the science world, is a hero in a portion of the parent community and has posed vaccines as the enemy. Although, in a purely logical and scientific perspective, it is quite simple and quite clear — the facts prove that vaccinating children against HPV will prevent cancer and save lives.

It is reasonable to be weary of new medical technology; however, when something has been clinically tested multiple times and been proven to be safe, it is cruel, illogical, and naive to put a child who is under your care at risk of the detrimental repercussions that can result from contracting HPV. Although some parents have been reluctant to have their children inoculated with another vaccine because of possible side effects, researchers will agree that the benefits of these vaccinations outweigh the risks. There is no justification for not protecting your children from a disease that is potentially life threatening if the ability to do so exists. A cancer vaccine that is safe and effective for boys and girls exists, so give it to them.

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2 Comments to “There is No Justification for Not Protecting Your Children”

  1. I agree with you however, it’s not just children that need to get vaccinated, the adults should too. In fact, I think everybody should get vaccinated.

    I just don’t understand people’s reluctancy to getting vaccinated. While it’s true that vaccines aren’t 100-percent safe but what is? I can think of numerous life threatening situations that can happen just by steeping out of your front door. What are you going to do? Stay home and hide underneath your blankets for the rest of your life? Well, I hate to break it to you, not only would that get you nowhere in life but also, there are multiple other life threatening situations that can happen by staying in bed. Besides, there are also dangers in not vaccinating as well. By not vaccinating, the individual are more susceptible to whatever disease or infection thats going around. Not only that, but these very same individuals can get someone else sick, even those who have gotten vaccinated. Eventually, it’ll spread until it becomes an epidemic…

    Vaccines not safe? So, is everything else in this world. Can cause autism? Loads of research proving otherwise. Vaccines don’t work? Look at Syria and its Polio problem: 14 years that disease was dead and the one time that they don’t vaccinate, it returns, deadlier then ever. What am I trying to say, you ask? Get vaccinated! Its worth it in the end.

  2. I think it’s ridiculous that some parents are worried about the “potentially corrupting message” that the HPV shot gives to young adults. Shouldn’t they be more concerned about the future health and well being of their child? Especially when there is a 74% annual infection rate from ages 14-24? This is an example of overprotective parents that are in denial that their child is growing up. If they are so concerned about the sexual activity of their young child, maybe they should cut down on the cable TV and internet while they’re at it. That’s much more likely to promote promiscuity then a HPV shot.

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