And while a vaccine exists to prevent HPV and its future side effects — the only cancer-preventing vaccine currently in existence — only 37.6 percent of girls and 13.9 percent of boys ages 13-17 got all three doses of the vaccine in 2013. In a survey shared exclusively with Yahoo Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and NYU’s Centerfor Latino Adolescent and Family Health polled a national representative sample of 1663 children, age 9 to 21, and their parents, to investigate awareness about HPV, the cancers it causes, and the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
When It Comes To HPV ‘Parents Don’t Know A Lot’
Of those surveyed by Planned Parenthood, only about a third (30.7 percent) of parents had elected to have their children vaccinated with all three doses needed for complete protection. An additional 4.8 percent had children who had received two out of the three necessary doses, while another 6.7 percent had only one of the three necessary doses. Over 40 percent of parents polled were either undecided about whether their child should receive the vaccine or had decided to not vaccinate their child against HPV. “What we saw very strongly [in our survey] were two things,” says Leslie Kantor, MPH, Vice President of Education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “One, that HPV is also a problem for boys and men and two, that a substantial number of folks are concerned with the safety of vaccines.” Kantor adds that what the survey “showed really clearly is that one problem overall is that parents don’t know a lot” when it comes to HPV, its risks, and the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.Of the 40.6 percent of those surveyed who have not yet vaccinated their children or are not planning to, about 70 percent of those named “safety concerns” as their reason for their indecision or choice to not vaccinate.
The HPV Vaccine Is The Only Vaccine That Prevents Cancer
“People don’t understand that HPV causes cancer. This is a vaccine to prevent cancer,” emphasizes Kantor, noting that there has somehow been a major public health failure in educating parents that electing to have their child receive the HPV vaccine “is to help protect their kids from cancer. There are many conversations on the internet and in social media about HPV vaccine safety, Anne Schuchat, MD, the Assistant Surgeon General for the Unites States Public Health Service and the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tells Yahoo Health. “All vaccines used in the U.S. are required to go through years of extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the FDA. HPV vaccines, like all vaccines, are continually monitored for safety. There have been no serious safety concerns linked to HPV vaccination.”