Teens going back to school: CDC says get them vaccinated against HPV

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Most kids are back to school, but many here in Utah aren't fully vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control is now urging all parents to get their pre-teens vaccinated against HPV.


27,000 h-p-v related cancers are diagnosed every year in the United States and the CDC say the HPV vaccination could have prevented most of them. HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is so common that most adults become infected with HPV at some point in their lives.


Based on 2013 CDC data, 79 million Americans have HPV and 14 million become newly infected each year, and in some cases that virus leads to cancer.


University of Utah Hospital Pediatrician Dr. Ellie Brownstein told ABC 4 News, "I have relatives right now who have cancer and if I could prevent it with a vaccine do you think we would? Oh, in a heartbeat."


So why are so many parents not getting their kids vaccinated? For some it's the stigma that HPV is a sexually transmitted virus.


"People have this fear that if my kid gets the shot it's saying ‘go have sex.’ I tell them you're child is not going to do anything they wouldn't do otherwise,” said Dr. Brownstein.


Dr. Brownstein warns parents that even if your child waits till marriage doesn't mean they'll be safe from HPV.


“Your child can abstain from sex totally, wait until they get married and have a partner who has been exposed to this virus at some point in the past and pass it on to them and their partner would never know they were sick because a number of people are asymptomatic. Your child is the one who gets cancer and you could have prevented that,” said Dr. Brownstein.


That's why doctors say it's so important your child is vaccinated early, before they're sexually active and when their immune system is most responsive.


We reached out to Facebook to see what our viewers thought about vaccinating their kids.


Jodi Evans wrote, “I would rather know that I did something for my child to prevent cancer by getting him or her a shot, than watch them suffer and die from cancer!” Patricia Watts has her reservations. She wrote "Not until we know more about the long term side effects. I’m not comfortable with injecting kids with something without knowing the long term effects of this vaccine.”


For more information on HPV log on to: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/default.htm#media

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