HPV Vaccine Recommended for Young Girls

cancer, HPV, vaccine, youth, cervical cancerThe vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, is known to cause cervical cancer in females.  There is a vaccine available to prevent the virus, but the key is giving it to females before they become sexually active and are at risk for exposure. 

Many states are considering making this vaccine mandatory for all middle school aged females.  The vaccine is already mandatory in both Washington D.C., and the state of Virginia.

This mandate is being met with some opposition however, mostly by more conservative parents.  The recommended age for vaccination is 11 years old, which makes many parents squeamish.  Many believe at 11 is far too young to even consider their child to be sexually active.  However, research has shown that many parents have no clue about when their children start having sex.

Studies have shown that without widespread HPV vaccination, 10 percent of American girls are infected with the virus by the age of 15, and this infection rate doubles to nearly 20 percent by the age of 17.

Some argue with the idea of a forced government injection.  Michele Bachmann actually made a statement about how it was wrong for “innocent little 12-year-old girls” to be “forced to have a government injection.”

Dr. Diane Harper, professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine states, “Ideally none of our children is going to be sexually active until they meet Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong, and that’s the end of the story,” Willoughby says. “But it happens, and sometimes you’re not aware of it. We can’t prevent [HPV infection] once that exposure has occurred.”

The two approved vaccines that protect against HPV are Gardasil and Cervarix.  The vaccine costs about $400 dollars, and must be taken in 3 injections over the period of 6 months.

The real problem with the issue seems to be the fact that people are reluctant to discuss both sex and 11 year old girls at the same time.  For many parents it seems worth the health risk in order to avoid or prolong the thought of their child becoming sexually active.  However, this lack of attention could be a life-or-death decision they are making for their child.

Even in Virginia where it is mandated, the parents are allowed to opt out of the vaccine for their children.  For now it seems the decision is going to be left up to the parents, but this may change in the near future.

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