Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

March 31, 2013

Study finds some parents don’t do HPV vaccines

Potential side effects prove a road block

More parents sat they won’t vaccinate their daughters to protect them from the human papilloma virus, a study by the Mayo Clinic shows. 

According to researchers, more than two in five parents surveyed don’t think the HPV vaccine is necessary, while others said they fear the potential side effects. 

Published recently in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that five years ago 40 percent of parents said they wouldn’t get the HPV vaccine for their daughters. That number rose to 41 percent in 2009 and 44 percent in 2010. 

“That’s the opposite direction that rate should be going,” said senior researcher Robert Jacobson, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. 

However, Cleburne gynecologist Dr. Naomi Harman said adults and teens are still asking her for the vaccine. She said some may be waiting until they don’t need parental consent to make that decision, but added there are studies that show the vaccination might work better the earlier it is given. 

“I don’t think my numbers have decreased that frequently,” she said. “With children, that’s a different thing. I can respect that. I don’t know that I will vaccinate my 9- or 10-year-old, but I might when she’s older.” 

The vaccination protects girls ages 9 and older against the four most common strains of HPV, which are capable of causing cervical cancer. There are 40 strains of HPV known to cause cancer, Harman said. 

“It is something that you may be exposed to and not show signs or a diagnosis and it would not show signs for several years,” she said. “Fifty percent of women by the time they are 80 have been exposed to HPV. But some of us will never know.” 

Over the last several years, Jacobson said, many studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective. At the same time, more parents have said they are concerned about the vaccine’s safety — rising from 5 percent in 2008 to 16 percent in 2010. 

The study found that fewer than 1 percent of parents were concerned about the meningitis and Tdap — tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis — vaccines. 

Still, Harman said it’s a good idea to talk with your children’s doctors and make a decision before it’s too late. 

“Unfortunately I see quite a bit of HPV,” she said. “I see it in all ranges: teenagers, 30, 40, 50s, 60s. It kind of runs the age range.”

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