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Posts Tagged ‘HPV vaccine’

5 Ways to Keep Your College-Bound Student Healthy

August 10, 2016 3 comments

Preparing a kid for college is akin to preparing for their arrival at birth.  There are so many details to think about, choices to consider and preparations to be made that it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed.  As parents, we want nothing more than to ensure that our children are well prepared – both physically and emotionally – for all the challenges they are about to face.

DSC_9531While it’s natural to focus on the dorm items your child might need, parents should also help prepare their teen for the responsibilities they will have in managing their own health. Once they move into that dorm, you will no longer be there to fill their prescriptions, fetch their medicine, make their doctor’s appointments, or otherwise ensure they are getting the medical attention they need.  It will be up to them to maintain a healthy diet, get adequate rest, and protect themselves from the dangers of alcohol, drugs and unwanted or unsafe sex.  They will need to know when to seek professional medical attention if they should get sick, injured or find themselves struggling with mental or physical needs.

Before your child heads off to college, here are five things you can do to help them stay healthy:

1.) Get your child a physical exam.  

When kids are young, parents are accustomed to bringing them in for well-visits.  However, it’s not uncommon for kids to miss yearly check-ups in lieu of sports physicals and sick visits.  Before your child heads to campus, make sure to schedule a comprehensive health exam.  The conversation your child has with the doctor should help prepare them to manage their current health conditions while away at school (such as any known allergies, specialist appointments and regular medications) while also opening the discussion to the dangers of stress, poor diet, inadequate sleep, binge drinking, drug experimentation and unsafe sex.  If their provider fails to cover these issues completely, it’s important that parents weigh in on these concerns as well.  You can let your child know that while you trust them to make responsible decisions, you are always available for advice and support.

2.) Get all the recommended vaccines, not just those required by the school.  

For many students, college can be a time of significant stress.  Students don’t always eat a healthy diet or get the proper rest. They live in close quarters and have a tendency to share cups and eating utensils.  At some point your child may travel, or engage with fellow students and faculty members who have traveled, to areas where diseases are more prevalent.  And studies show that college students are more likely to engage in risky behavior. All these conditions make students more susceptible to illness.  It is also what contributes to the chances of outbreaks occurring on collegiStock_000078067721_Double.jpge campuses.

Making sure your child is up-to-date on all the recommended vaccines, not just those required by the school, can help them avoid dangerous and sometimes even deadly illnesses.  While there are several immunizations that are recommended for college-age students, each state and college may have different admission requirements.

To best protect your college-bound student from preventable diseases, parents should consider the following vaccines for students before they arrive on campus: Read more…

Highlights from June Meeting of Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices

June 30, 2016 1 comment

Original Title: BLDG21_0023.jpg

Three times a year a specialized group of medical and public health experts meet to review scientific data related to vaccine safety and effectiveness. This group, known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), has an enormous responsibility.  They establish, update and continually evaluate all the vaccine recommendations that are made in the United States for infants, adolescents and adults. Health insurance coverage of vaccines is based on these recommendations and the ACIP guidelines are considered the gold standard among healthcare providers.

Last week, in their second meeting of 2016, the ACIP discussed cholera, meningococcal, hepatitis, influenza, RSV and HPV vaccines, as well as the safety of maternal Tdap immunization and the laboratory containment of Poliovirus Type 2.  

Below you will find a recap of the highlights of the June 2016 ACIP meeting to help keep you informed of the latest ACIP recommendations and considerations. 

Influenza Vaccine

The most significant and somewhat surprising decision that occurred during last week’s ACIP meeting was that the Committee voted in favor of an interim recommendation that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the nasal spray flu vaccine, should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season. 

The vote followed an extensive review of data investigating the effectiveness of the nasal spray flu vaccine over the past three flu seasons.  The data showed vaccine effectiveness for nasal spray vaccine among children 2 through 17 years during 2015-2016 was only 3% effective (with a 95% Confidence Interval of -49-37%). In comparison, flu shots had a vaccine effectiveness estimate of 63% against any flu virus among children 2 through 17 years (with a 95% Confidence Interval of 52-72%). This estimate clearly indicates that while no protective benefit could be measured from the nasal spray vaccine in this past season, flu shots provided measurable protection in comparison.

The disappointing vaccine effectiveness data for the nasal spray vaccine during the 2015-2016 season follows two previous seasons (2013-2014 and 2014-2015) that also showed poor and/or lower than expected vaccine effectiveness for LAIV.  (More information about past LAIV VE data is available here.)

child_h1n1_flu_shotWhile it’s disheartening to see data suggesting that the nasal spray flu vaccine did not work as well as expected, the data did suggest that flu shots did perform well and offered substantial protection against influenza this past season. Some patients prefer the nasal spray flu vaccine due to an aversion to needles and may be disappointed in this vote. However, the action taken by the ACIP  emphasizes the important role they fill in continually measuring and evaluating vaccine effectiveness.  Only after a thorough review of the latest scientific data and discussion among the Committee do they decide to alter vaccine recommendations to ensure that they are in the best interest of the public’s health.

ACIP continues to recommend annual flu vaccination, with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) for everyone 6 months and older and the CDC expects that there should be no shortage of injectable vaccines.  However, it should be noted that with the ACIP vote the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during the 2016-2017 season and therefore should not be offered by providers or clinics and will not be covered under the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program.

Cholera Vaccine

A vote was taken to recommend the vaccine for people traveling to high risk areas. 

For more information about cholera visit the CDC travel page here and for up-to-date travel alerts that address various destinations and diseases, we recommend visiting Passport Health’s travel alerts here.

Meningococcal Vaccine

The first part of the discussion of meningococcal vaccines was a consideration of the data on the serogroup B vaccine Trumenba.  This particular vaccine is currently administered on a three dose schedule, however Pfizer’s Dr. Laura York indicated during her presentation that the FDA has approved both a 2 and 3 dose schedule based on the data showing both schedules to be considered safe and effective.  While immunity data suggests that the 3 dose schedule may confer slightly greater immunity over longer periods of time, the 2 dose schedule would be considered optimal in the case of an outbreak or when it is important to confer rapid immunity.   The committee will be reviewing more data on the duration of immunity and the safety of a 2 dose versus 3 dose schedule at the October meeting, before a formal recommendation is made for persons at increased risk, for use during outbreaks or for all healthy adolescents. Read more…

Vaccines Can Not Only Prevent Cancer, But May Soon Be Able to Cure It

April 6, 2016 28 comments

HPV112315HPV is such a common virus that nearly all sexually active individuals will contract the virus at some point in their lives.

It’s estimated that 79 million people (about 1 in 4) are currently infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) and about 14 million people become newly infected each year in the U.S. alone.  Yet, there is no cure for HPV and in some cases the virus will develop into cancer years, or even decades, after initial exposure. This results in about 270,000 people who are diagnosed with HPV-related cancers in the U.S. each year to include cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus or throat.

While the CDC currently recommends that parents get their sons and daughters the HPV vaccine series between the ages of 11-12 to prevent future cases of HPV and HPV-related cancers, the reality is that many people are already infected and are spreading the virus to others.

Good News For Those Already Infected

Mayumi Nakagawa, M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is researching a new vaccine that is designed to cure HPV, cause pre-cancerous lesions to disappear, and provide future protection against HPV. Following the success of the vaccine’s phase I trials, Dr. Nakagawa is now continuing with stage II trials with the support of a $3.5 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), over the next five years. Read more…

Highlights of the Latest Meeting of the Advisory Committee On Immunization Practices

February 26, 2016 4 comments

Three times a year a specialized group of medical and public health experts meet in Atlanta to review scientific data related to vaccine safety and effectiveness. Although most people are probably unaware that these meetings occur, this is not some clandestine group.  Far from it actually.  Meeting dates and proposed agendas are available in advance, all meetings are open to the public and available via webcast, public comments are accepted, and past meeting notes and slide presentations are accessible online.

What amazes me is that the 15 voting members, 8 ex officio members and 30 non-voting representatives of this group participate voluntarily.  In addition to the three meetings per year, members serve in various work groups that are active all year long.  Work groups  review the latest studies on specific vaccines, as well as the safety and efficacy of those vaccines, in order to provide recommendations to the larger committee.

They work hard and take their responsibilities very seriously.  And they should, because this group, known as The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), has an enormous responsibility.  They establish, update and continually evaluate all the vaccine recommendations that are made in the United States for infants, adolescents and adults.  These guidelines are considered the gold standard among healthcare providers and health insurance coverage of vaccines is based on these recommendations.

Original Title: BLDG21_0023.jpgIf you’ve ever attended a meeting or tuned in to a live webcast, you know how thorough they are in their investigation of the science that is the driving factor behind every recommendation they make.  Earlier this week, in their first meeting of 2016, ACIP members discussed a variety of vaccines to include HPV, meningococcal, influenza and Japanese encephalitis, as well as Zika virus. For those who were unable to attend the meeting or tune in via webcast, I would like to provide a brief recap of the major discussion items.

HPV Vaccination: 

The discussion focused on the ongoing review of data comparing the immunogenicity of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine after a 2 dose schedule versus a 3 dose schedule. 

As early as June 2014, the ACIP began reviewing data for 2 dose bivalent and quadrivalent HPV vaccines.  The World Health Organization has been recommending a 2 dose schedule since 2014 for children starting the series before age 15 and most other countries who primarily administer bivalent or quadrivalent HPV vaccines are already using a 2 dose schedule.  These 2 dose schedules are recommended in foreign countries for use with the bivalent and quadrivalent vaccines.  Here in the U.S. the ACIP began recommending the 9-valent HPV vaccine, which provides protection from additional strains of HPV in February, 2015.  Vaccination with 3 doses was recommended at that time.

In evaluating the possibility of reducing the number of doses from 2 to 3 here in the U.S., the ACIP reviewed data on the immunogenicity of a 2 dose versus 3 dose HPV vaccination schedule to determine whether a different schedule could provide similar, acceptable levels of protection in the months and years following vaccination as compared to what is expected with a 3 dose schedule. The Committee reviewed three studies comparing 2 doses versus 3 doses of the bivalent HPV vaccine, three studies comparing 2 doses versus 3 doses of quadrivalent vaccine (one from Canada, one from Mexico and a large trial from India), and preliminary findings from a ongoing study of 9-valent vaccine that is expected to continue for two more years.

Each study was conducted slightly differently and provided an extensive amount of data to consider. For instance, some studies differentiated between the timing of the doses, (such as 0, 6 month dosing and 0, 12 months dosing versus the 0, 6, 12 month interval that is currently recommended).  Some studies also accounted for differences in gender, ages of administration of doses (for instance, young girls versus older women and girls versus boys).  There was even data that differentiated between the seroconversion rates at different intervals after vaccination and among the antibody titers for the different HPV types.

The data appears to suggest that a 2 dose schedule may be a consideration moving forward.  However, the ACIP’s HPV Work Group still needs to evaluate all the data in greater detail before they can present their recommendations for further discussion and approval by the entire ACIP Committee at a future meeting.

The Committee still needs to consider that completion of a 2 dose regimen would be important since the effectiveness of a single dose is known to be lower.  Currently,  completion rates for the 3 dose regimen remains suboptimal and there would be even less flexibility in a 2 dose regimen.  Additionally, the duration of protection from a 2 dose 9-valent vaccine has not been determined, but is currently undergoing investigation.  This type of data will likely need to be evaluated in comparison to a 3 dose schedule before proceeding with a change of recommendation.

A study released earlier this week suggests that we may be witnessing a herd effect with HPV vaccine.  Despite only 40% of girls and 22% of boys being vaccinated, the rate of HPV infections among young women has plummeted by two-thirds since the introduction of the vaccine.  Before altering the current recommendations, the Committee may also want to consider the comparative herd effect in a 2 dose versus 3 dose schedule.

It was noted that  the vaccine manufacturer is seeking FDA approval of a 2 dose 9-valent HPV vaccine, which should be determined within the year.  In the meantime, if the ACIP were to recommend a 2 dose schedule before the FDA review is complete, the recommendation would be considered off label. Although some may question an off label recommendation, the ACIP has made other off label recommendations when sufficient evidence suggests it is reasonable to do so.

Meningococcal Vaccine: 

The ACIP reviewed several post-approval studies of meningococcal serogroup B vaccine  to further evaluate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy profile.  Additionally, the Committee was presented with data from a mass immunization campaign that occurred in response to a large meningococcal serogroup B outbreak in Quebec, Canada.  There was also discussion pertaining to a possible increased risk of meningococcal disease among HIV infected persons.

As background, it was noted that the ACIP issued a recommendation for meningococcal serogroup B vaccine in 2015 following FDA licensure.  Prior to the licensure of the vaccine, the FDA approved special use of the vaccine in response to outbreaks of the disease on various college campuses.   While both the ACIP and the FDA have previously reviewed the efficacy and safety data available from pre-licensure vaccine trials, and from the use of the vaccine in many countries that have licensed and administered the vaccine ahead of the U.S., the Committee will continue to review post-approval studies to ensure the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

This week, the Committee reviewed four safety and immunogenicity studies, all of which demonstrated a high proportion of individuals who achieved a high consistency of response across the studies.  The safety profile seemed consistent with the safety data at licensure and phase three studies confirmed that the vaccine elicits bacterial responses that correlate to protection against the four most prevalent strains circulating in the U.S., as well as 10 additional strains.  The data continued to demonstrate broad protective response when used for both outbreak control and prevention of endemic disease.

Additionally, there was a review of a mass immunization campaign following a significant outbreak in Quebec, Canada.  The data suggests direct protection during 18 months following vaccination with 100% vaccine effectiveness observed among the 47,115 vaccinated people and two cases among two unvaccinated adults.  There was additional data presented on the safety profile and observational evidence pertaining to adverse events such as pain and fever post injection.

The meningococcal vaccine discussion also suggested that there is a growing body of evidence that supports an increased risk of meningococcal disease among HIV-infected persons.  This is of particular interest since the ACIP doesn’t currently include HIV-infected persons on the list of people at high risk.  This is largely due to evidence that suggests that the meningococcal vaccine offers suboptimal vaccine response and duration of protection among this particular demographic of HIV-infected persons.  In contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics does in fact recommend MenACWY vaccine for HIV infected persons ages 2 and up.  So, while the Meningococcal Work Group seems supportive of adding a recommendation to include HIV infected persons, they will continue to review additional data and will report back to the full Committee at a future meeting.

During the public comment period of the meeting, Lynn Bozof from the National Meningitis Association, raised the concern that the public is having difficulty locating MenB vaccine.  She provided anecdotal evidence that her member families seeking MenB vaccination for their children have had to make up to five calls to providers to gain access to the vaccine.  She feared that less motivated families would simply give up.  She asked that the ACIP consider the ramifications of their permissive Category B recommendation for MenB vaccination, which in her opinion does not carry the strength of a full Category A recommendation.

ACIP’s current recommendation as posted on the CDC website states that “Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (Bexsero® or Trumenba®), preferably at 16 through 18 years old. Two or three doses are needed depending on the brand.”  “Preteens, teens, and young adults should be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine if they are identified as being at increased risk of meningococcal disease.”  This is quite different than the Category A recommendation for the vaccine to prevent the A,C,W and Y strains of meningococcal.  The recommendation states that “all 11 to 12 year olds should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent (protects against serogroups A, C, W, and Y) meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra® or Menveo®)”.   The small differences in recommendation types can make a big difference in the number of individuals who are offered the vaccine, have access to the vaccine and ultimately get vaccinated.

Influenza Vaccine: 

There were two significant discussions pertaining to influenza vaccine.  First, the CDC announced that based on interim vaccine effectiveness data it appears that getting a flu vaccine this season has helped reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by 59%.  Additionally, data suggests that there is a very low rate of adverse reaction to flu vaccine in people who have egg allergy and that since the same reactions occur at the same rate in non-egg-allergic people, the ACIP will be removing egg allergy warnings for influenza vaccination. 

The influenza surveillance data from this season indicates that influenza activity in the U.S. has been lower this season than in the last three seasons, and that there is a good match between the most common circulating viruses (A (H1N1) and B) which may explain why the vaccine is offering significant protection this season.  It was also noted that there have been 13 pediatric deaths this season.

The Committee also learned that among the 73.7 million children in the U.S., 1.3% or approximately 958,100 children have some type of egg allergy.  Current flu vaccine recommendations for those with allergy to egg are quite extensive, including a long algorithm which must be considered by vaccine administrators.  The recommendation that children be monitored post vaccination or seek the advice of an allergist may result in parents avoiding influenza vaccine all together for their children.  However, this may no longer need to be the case.

In the review of 27 published studies involving flu vaccine and egg allergy, most studies included patients with history of severe anaphylaxis with egg ingestion. These patients tolerated the vaccine without any serious reactions such as respiratory distress or hypotension.  While there was a very low rate of minor reactions such as hives and mild wheezing, these reactions occurred in non-egg-allergic people at the same rate.  Similarly, there was a one in one million chance of anaphylactic reaction to flu vaccine among egg-allergic people, which is the same rate in response to flu and other vaccines in non-egg-allergic people.  The research suggests that there haven’t been serious reactions to flu vaccine in people with egg allergies because flu vaccines contain minimal egg ovalbumin and therefore are unlikely to cause a reaction in egg-allergic people.  In fact, it was demonstrated that the manufacturers have actually over-estimated the amount of egg ovalbumin contained in both the IIV (injected) and LAIV (live attenuated/nasal) vaccines.

Based on the Committee’s review of this data, the ACIP voted to remove the precautions about IIV and LAIV flu vaccine for people with a history of egg allergy.  The ACIP Influenza Work Group was tasked with developing the exact wording of the recommendation post-meeting, which will be approved for the 2016-2017 season.  Stay tuned for the exact recommendation changes.

Japanese encephalitis vaccine:

The ACIP reviewed data on the current recommendation for travelers to receive Japanese encephalitis vaccination.  Studies regarding the safety of the vaccine and duration were presented to the Committee and it was determined that there was insufficient data to spur the inclusion of a booster (2nd) dose of the vaccine.  The latest data will however be included in an upcoming MMWR and further considered at a future meeting.

Zika Virus:

The Committee was given an overview of the international efforts to quell outbreaks of the Zika virus and develop a potential vaccine to protect against future infections worldwide.  Collaboration among global experts was similar to the impressive response to the Ebola outbreaks and the conversation regarding the potential for a future vaccine was encouraging.

While this recap offers a glimpse into the type of considerations that the ACIP addresses and the extensive amount of research they regularly review, these highlights do not go into the length necessary to recount the entire meeting.  If you should be interested in seeing the slide presentations made to the Committee, simply check for the slides to be updated here within the next week or two.  If you should have questions, please let us know in the comments below and we will do our best to address them.  Additionally, by subscribing to this Shot of Prevention blog in the upper right corner of the page you can ensure that you will receive notice of ACIP updates and meeting recaps in the future.

Questioning Whether To Get Your Child the HPV Vaccine? Read This

January 21, 2016 4 comments

iStock_000039978628_Double.jpgIn June 2006, the first human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was licensed for use in the U.S.  Rather than celebrate the development of a vaccine to prevent a deadly form of cancer, many parents have instead been misguided by fear.  As a result of persistent internet stories and inaccurate myths that question the safety of HPV vaccines, parents continue to refuse or delay HPV vaccines for their children, and one of the most effective ways to prevent cancer is being grossly underutilized.

Although millions of doses of HPV vaccines have been administered in the past 10 years, some parents still fear what may happen if their child gets an HPV vaccine. 

What they should fear is what may happen if they don’t.

I offer the following information about HPV because everyone should understand where their fears ought to be directed: at the disease, not the vaccine designed to prevent it.

1)  It’s not about sex, it’s about cancer.

Regardless of what parents choose to teach (or not teach) their kids about sex, abstinence or contraception, the HPV vaccine is vital to the health of our children because it protects them from cancer.

By preventing people from contracting certain strains of a highly prevalent infection, we can then prevent the possibility of HPV infections turning into cancerous cells. An HPV infection is often contracted shortly after sexual debut, and can eventually lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus or throat. Since the majority of these cancers have no formal screening measures, they often go undetected until they are well advanced.

2)  Nearly all sexually-active individuals will contract HPV at some point in their lives. 

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and is often referred to as the common cold of the genitals. HPV is not a new virus, but many people are unfamiliar with how dangerous and prevalent it is. Consider these staggering statistics:

Not only is HPV infection common, but most people rarely know they’re infected because it typically occurs without any symptoms.  Since it’s possible to develop symptoms years after first being infected, it’s especially difficult to diagnose exactly when a person first became infected.

In about 90% of cases, an HPV infection will eventually clear in about a year or two. However, during that time, those infected with HPV are often unknowingly spreading the infection to others.

3)  As many as 10% of those infected will eventually develop cancer. 

While 90% of people may clear the infection, the other 10% end up developing cancerous cells years, or even decades, after initial exposure.  Since there is no way to determine which cases will clear and which will lead to cancer, universal vaccination is the most effective means of prevention.

The following data reveals just how many cancer cases are linked to HPV each year:

Cervical cancer: Almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV and more than 11,000 women in the U.S. alone get cervical cancer each year.  When looking at the bigger picture, 528,000 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed worldwide in 2012.

Anal cancer: About 91% of anal cancers are caused by HPV and there are approximately 4,300 anal cancers diagnosed each year.

Oropharyngeal cancers(cancers of the head, neck, throat, mouth, tongue, and tonsils) About 72% are caused by HPV and an estimated 8,400 of these cancers are diagnosed each year.

Vaginal cancer: HPV causes about 75% of vaginal cancers and there are about 500 vaginal cancers diagnosed each year.

Vulvar Cancer: HPV causes about 50% of vulvar cancers and an estimated 2,100 vulvar cancers are diagnosed each year.

Penile Cancer: About 63% of penile cancers are linked to HPV and there are about 600 penile cancers diagnosed each year.

Genital Warts: There are more than 40 types of HPV that specifically affect the genital area. However, 90% of genital warts are caused by HPV types 6 or 11 and about 360,000 people in the U.S. get genital warts each year.

Since there is no test to check one’s overall HPV status, and no standard screening to detect HPV in the mouth or throat, getting an HPV vaccine is an effective way to prevent illness rather than leave people vulnerable to infections that can lead to cancer.

Some argue that since there is a test to screen for cervical cancer that this eliminates the need for vaccination among women.  While cervical cancer screenings are vitally important, they don’t prevent infection.  Instead, they help identify precancerous lesions. Once lesions are discovered, women may then need to endure various invasive and painful procedures.  These may include cone biopsies used to help diagnose precancerous or cancerous cells, and a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) often used to burn off precancerous lesions.  Additionally, cervical cancer screenings don’t help identify other HPV related cancers or help screen of men or adolescents for HPV.  With the vaccine we can prevent cancers before they exist.

4)  Surprise…you don’t have to have sex to get HPV.

Read more…

HPV Epidemic – Someone You Love Film – Watch It, Share It!

July 16, 2015 1 comment
Every Child By Two is pleased to welcome Linn to our social media team. Linn is a student intern who will be sharing her perspectives on vaccines with us through the eyes of a PhD candidate.  We hope you enjoy her first piece of the summer.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11-12.

This vaccine has the potential to prevent 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.

Why then is there such a low rate of vaccine uptake?

Only about 1/3 of girls aged 13-17 have been fully vaccinated and less than 14% of boys are fully vaccinated.

One study looked to identify the barriers to uptake of HPV vaccine and found that it was not the lack of perceived risk or vaccine safety that kept parents from vaccinating their children, but the perception that it would increase risky sexual behavior in adolescents even though there is no evidence that this will occur.HPV

As a young student, I remember learning about the HPV vaccine in high school. HPV was a sexually transmitted disease that was relatively unknown, but we learned that the vaccine would prevent certain cancers and genital warts. The knowledge that I gained about the ability for this vaccine to prevent these potential diseases prompted me to learn more about the HPV vaccine and increased my desire to receive it.

However, when I discussed it with my mother, an interesting process began to occur. She did not know any information about the HPV vaccine and when I spoke to her about the fact that it prevents a sexually transmitted disease, I could see a shift in her gaze as she narrowed her eyes. I sensed that she was hesitant because of the social stigma that surrounded a female who would get a vaccine that was related to sexual contact.

All of these opinions are related to a negative stigma around sexual behaviors that are not true.  And yet these are the thoughts I sensed were running through my mother’s head as she also considered what her own peers would think, as I am sure many others do.

Back then I perceived that the assumptions that are made about females that get an STD vaccine were:

a) She is promiscuous.

b) She is about to become promiscuous.

c) She wants to be promiscuous.

At the time, I even remember having a discussion with a teacher about the HPV vaccine and her speaking about how she refused to give her child the HPV vaccine because “they should not be giving 11-12 girls a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease”.   Now I understand that the 11-12 year old visit is the optimal visit, as it eliminates the connection of the vaccine with future sexual contact by integrating it within the routine vaccine schedule, which includes meningitis vaccines and a Tdap booster. In addition, I’ve learned that by waiting to provide the vaccine at a later date, many children fall through the cracks because they do not receive routine health care in their teen years. Read more…

Why Early HPV Vaccination is Beneficial

April 29, 2015 99 comments

Since the human papillomavirus (HPV) is transmitted from one person to another through sexual activity, many parents question why the CDC recommends the vaccine be administered to boys and girls as young as 11 or 12 years of age.  HPV vaccination is critical if we are to prevent the 27,000 cases of anal, mouth/throat, penile, cervicalvaginal, or vulvar cancers that are diagnosed each year in the U.S.  However, since some parents have difficulty acknowledging that their teenage children may be engaging in activity that puts them at risk of HPV, they’re often reluctant to vaccinate at the recommended age.

If you’re a parent who is questioning whether your preteen child should get the HPV vaccine, it’s important to realize the benefits of vaccinating at an early age.  

 hpv-cancer-prevention

The vaccine works best prior to exposure to the HPV virus.

The fact is that almost all sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their lives.  While most of these infections go undetected and may even clear up on their own, we know that one in four people in the U.S. are currently infected and that initial infection typically occurs in the teens or early 20s.

While most parents are hopeful that their teenagers will refrain from sexual activity until later in life, research tells us otherwise.  The data suggests that 5% of 12-year-olds, 10% of 13-year-olds and 20% of 14-year-olds are sexually active. And the likelihood of sex continues to escalate with each school grade level with 32% of 9th grade students to 62% of 12th grade students.  And since HPV can be transmitted through oral sex as well, it’s important to note that as many as 51% of 15-24 year-olds are having oral sex before they have their first sexual intercourse.

Since it’s entirely possible to get HPV the very first time that a person has sexual contact with another person, the question we must ask ourselves is why should we wait until a child is sexually active to offer vaccination? As we can see by the data, even a child as young as 12 years old can be at risk.  Even if a child should abstain from sex until marriage, there is no guarantee that their partner did the same, and they can still contract HPV that may one day lead to cancer.  However, if a child should complete the three dose series of HPV vaccination before they begin any type of sexual activity, then they’ll be better protected if they get exposed to the virus, at whatever age that may be.

The HPV vaccine produces a higher immune response in preteens than it does in older teens and young women.

Read more…