The HPV vaccine has sparked debate in households and on the political front. This vaccination aims to prevent cervical cancer through the spread of HPV, which is primarily contracted through sexual activity. The vaccine has been around for six years, and research shows the number of HPV cases is declining.
Gardisil, the controversial shot
Gloria Shuba, Bayhealth wellness coordinator for Caesar Rodney School District says she recommends the HPV vaccine to her patients. The three-shot series begins at age 10.
“For most of the students, we recommend Gardisil, but it has only been around for about six years, so there are concerns about it,” she told the Cape Gazette. “Some parents have heard that getting the shot causes sexual promiscuity, but I ask them ‘Does carrying an umbrella cause it to rain?’”
Gardisil targets four strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer. While the controversy continues, doctors say more parents are opting for the vaccine.
“The best time to get the vaccine is before kids are sexually active,” Shuba said. “We are vaccinating boys and girls with it now. With education, people tend to understand and be more receptive.”
Protecting the masses
HPV rates have dropped by about a third in those who have been vaccinated, which isn’t surprise. What is a surprise is that rate also dropped in those who hadn’t been vaccinated, going from over 30 percent to under 20 percent. This concept is known as herd immunity. When fewer people carry the infection, the chance of spreading it to others drops.
Boys now vaccinated as well
Researchers believe the herd immunity will continue grow as more people are vaccinated. In addition, doctors now suggest that boys be vaccinated around the same time girls are.
The shots typically cost about $100 per dose. Three doses are needed to provide the best prevention.