For those considering whether or not to vaccinate a son or daughter against the human papillomavirus, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention have released new findings that highlight a major statistic in favor of children receiving the HPV immunization.
According to the report, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, the CDC found that there have been 64 percent less cases of teen girls becoming infected with HPV over the last decade of vaccinating against the potentially cancer-causing virus. In addition to the impressive cut in infections in girls, the lead researcher, Dr. Lauri Markowitz, said that there has also been a decrease in cases of genital warts caused by HPV.
"We are continuing to see decreases in the HPV types that are targeted by the vaccine," said Markowitz. "The next thing we expect to see is a decline in precancers, then later on, declines in cancer."
Despite the vaccine's proven effectiveness, another CDC report shows that not only are vaccination rates too low for girls, but they are also almost nonexistent for boys. At this time, only 50 percent of teen girls receive all three of the recommended shots, while only 22 percent of boys do.
Markowitz believes one reason the immunization rates are so low is because of doctors' reluctance to discuss kids' sexual health with parents. However, she says it is important for parents to understand the vaccine's proven success and realize that it is a separate conversation from a discussion of sexual safety with their kids. While some parents worry that this will make kids think that it is OK to have sex or want to delay the vaccination until their teens are older, the goal is to get kids vaccinated before they become sexually active and are possibly exposed to the virus.