March 20, 2013
More and more parents are just saying “no” to the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, according to a new study by the Mayo Clinic. In fact, the researchers who conducted the study, which involved analyzing vaccination data for teens ages 13 to 17 in the 2008-10 National Immunization Survey of Teens, found that more than two in five parents surveyed believe the HPV vaccine is unnecessary and an increasing growing number of them express worry about potential side effects.
The findings, just published in the new issue of the journal Pediatrics, reveal that five years ago, 40 percent of parents surveyed said they wouldn’t vaccinate their girls against HPV– despite the fact doctors are increasingly pushing these vaccinations. By 2009, that figure had increased a little — up to 41 percent. However, by 2010, a full 44 percent of parents said they would not have their daughters vaccinated against HPV.
Parents’ concern about the safety of the HPV vaccine rose from five percent in 2008 to 16 percent in 2010. Among the reasons parents gave for nixing the vaccine: their doctor didn’t recommend it; a lack of knowledge about the vaccine; a belief the vaccination is unnecessary; a concern that the vaccine is inappropriate for the child’s age; worry about safety/side effects; and the fact they believe their child isn’t sexually active.
“That’s the opposite direction that rate should be going,” senior researcher Robert Jacobson, M.D., a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, said in a press statement. He claimed that studies have found the HPV vaccine is safe for teens – and he said that the vaccine will prevent cervical cancer and other genital cancers by preventing the HPV infections that lead to those cancers.
Let’s analyze those claims.
There was no mention of a huge study of 200,0000 published last year in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, which concluded that although the HPV vaccine, sold as Gardasil, is “generally” safe, it increases the risk of fainting and skin infections. Another study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that the rate of allergic reactions to the HPV vaccine – including life-threatening anaphylaxis — was higher than the rates for other vaccines given at schools, including those for hepatitis B, diphtheria, measles, mumps and the flu. Overall, the rate of allergic reactions to HPV was five times to 20 times as high as the rates for the other vaccines.
The argument for the vaccine is that it is needed to prevent cervical cancer — as if there is little other alternative because HPV infections, which cause genital warts, are so widespread. What is rarely mentioned, or mentioned only in passing, is that HPV is usually cleared naturally in the body over time. Even Jacobsen noted in the media statement: “Whilemost HPV infections clear, a percentage linger and start the process of cancerous changes.”
Another fact rarely mentioned is that the HPV vaccination only protects against about a third of the known cancer-triggering HPV strains. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) notes there are about 12 high-risk HPV types and states “although HPV infection is very common, most infections will be suppressed by the immune system within one to two years without causing cancer.”
What’s more, infection with HPV isn’t an automatic sign cancer will develop. In fact, odds are it won’t – especially with common sense preventive care.
While it is true that if a cervical infection with a high-risk HPV type persists, the cellular changes can eventually develop into precancerous lesions that can lead to cancer if not treated, the NCI notes it “can take 10 to 20 years or more for a persistent infection with a high-risk HPV type to develop into cancer” and routine Pap tests can catch almost all cancerous changes which can then be simply treated.
This article was posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 11:43 am