USA Today (02.10.2014)
USA Today reported that the President’s Cancer Panel found that the failure to vaccinate US children for human papillomavirus (HPV) was responsible for 22,000 preventable cancers annually. HPV is a family of sexually transmitted viruses that causes cancer throughout the body. HPV causes a type of throat cancer and can cause cervical cancers in women.
Although CDC has recommended HPV vaccination for boys since 2011, only 7 percent of US boys have had all three doses. According to CDC, increasing vaccination rates to 80 percent among teen girls could prevent 53,000 future cervical cancer diagnoses. CDC’s current recommendations called for three vaccination doses at least two months apart, beginning when children were ages 11 to 12. The vaccine was more effective before youth commenced sexual activity. The vaccine’s total cost ($400) could be a barrier, although insurance companies often covered HPV vaccine.
According to Mary Anne Jackson, a pediatrician and director of infectious disease at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., many physicians did not recommend the HPV vaccine as strongly as vaccines such as meningitis or whooping cough, although studies indicated parents would follow their physician’s advice. American Cancer Society Spokesperson and Report Advisor Debbie Saslow suggested that pediatricians’ reluctance to discuss sexual activity also could be a barrier.
Jackson emphasized that studies indicated the vaccine was extremely safe with no increase in serious side effects reported after 56 million doses. The report projected that future HPV vaccines would be even more effective, preventing 90 percent of cervical cancers. Panel Chairperson Barbara Rimer, professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, urged pediatricians to give a “strong message” about HPV vaccine and to frame the conversation around cancer prevention. State laws allowing pharmacists to give HPV vaccine also could improve rates.