HPV: The teen vaccine no one gets?

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ByMargot Kim via KFSN logo
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
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While the HPV vaccine has been available for several years, a new study shows not everyone wants to give it a chance.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The human papillomavirus or HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. and can cause several types of cancers in men and women. While the HPV vaccine has been available for several years, a new study shows not everyone wants to give it a chance.

Mom Danielle Schwartz-Safko is usually in the driver's seat when it comes to her kids. But when it came to the HPV vaccine, her 13-year-old, Logan, didn't need any direction. He wanted to get it.

"I'm glad I got it. I don't really want all that STDs in my system," Logan Schwartz told ABC30.

But according to new research from the Moffitt Cancer Center, the HPV vaccine isn't as popular as it should be especially among boys.

"It feels like a little bit, we've fallen short," Susan Vadaparampil, Ph.D., professor and senior member of the Moffitt Cancer Center, told ABC30.

Researcher Susan Vadaparampil says in the U.S. only 38 percent of girls have completed all three doses of the vaccination, and for boys, it's only 14 percent.

"We would probably do a lot better if everybody was on the same page in terms of vaccine benefits, being comfortable with discussing the vaccine, and seeing how there is potential to prevent cancer," said Vadaparampil.

Research showed some doctors didn't recommend the vaccine because they were hesitant to have the "birds and bees" talk with kids.

Vadaparampil explained, "Bringing up a vaccine that's about a virus that's potentially sexually transmitted is a difficult topic at any age group."

That's not an issue for pediatrician Marcy Solomon Baker, M.D., Assistant Medical Director of BayCare Medical Group; she says it's all about the approach.

"Roll it in with their sixth and seventh grade immunizations, their middle school immunizations. I don't think you really have to get into detail with an 11-year-old about why we're giving this vaccine," Dr. Baker told ABC30.

Baker is proactive when it comes to immunizations, like the HPV vaccine.

"We have a vaccine against cancer. Why would you not want to give it to your child?" asked Dr. Baker.

"It was just another shot; basically all of the shots are the same," said Schwartz.

Logan hopes more kids will get the vaccine instead of "passing" on it.

According to the National Cancer Institute, widespread vaccination has the potential to reduce cervical cancer deaths around the world by as much as two-thirds. The advisory committee on immunizations recommends the HPV vaccine for both girls and boys. When the vaccine first became available to the public, it was an "option" for boys, so insurance coverage was an issue.

For more information, contact:Lisa PattersonRegional Communications Manager813-554-8134Lisa.patterson@BayCare.org