Martha Jefferson Healthwise: HPV

Feb. 5, 2014

When it comes to the subject of childhood vaccines, some parents may have mixed feelings especially about one of the newest recommendations. In our Martha Jefferson Healthwise report, doctors say it's a good idea to get your daughters and sons vaccinated.

The HPV, or human papillomavirus vaccine, has been around for about a decade and it's given to children as early as 11-years-old.

The vaccine is used to protect against HPV and cancers caused by HPV.

HPV is a condition that impacts both males and females and that's why doctors are encouraging parents to take action.

"We really want to get the kids vaccinated at that age and not wait until they're older when both it doesn't work as well and they could be sexually active already and then they're at risk," said Dr. Kathy Smyth, Palmyra Family Medical Associates.

Dr. Smyth says new studies show parents aren't jumping on the bandwagon and getting their kids vaccinated.

"Recent studies show that the vaccine uptake isn't where we want it to be. It's less than 50 percent partly because doctors aren't recommending it. Parents don't recognize the extreme of the problem and aren't getting it for their kids.

While Dr. Smyth says many parents don't want to get the vaccine for the fear that it will encourage their kids to have sex, she says it could help to keep them healthy later as adults.

"We're finding that males have up to 7,000 cases of cancer that are HPV related a year and 12,000 cases in women. That's a lot per year and 4,000 women die of cervical cancer every year despite our ability to do pap smears and screening for the disease and we still lose people every year as a result," said Dr. Smyth.

Those are all statistics that she says could be lowered with the vaccine.

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