Top HPV Vaccine Myths
By: Alyssa Clader, Development/Business Manager, ICTC
What if there was something you as a parent could do to prevent your child from getting cancer? Would you do it? It sounds like a no brainer, yet Texas ranks 47th out 50 states and the District of Columbia for HPV vaccine completion, the ONLY cancer vaccine available. Human papilloma virus is associated with 99% of cervical cancers, 95% of anal cancers, 70% of throat and neck cancers, 65% of vaginal cancers, 50% of vulvar cancers, and 35% of penile cancers. But there is good news! The HPV vaccine provides almost 100% protection from nine HPV types, if all doses are received at the correct intervals, and if it is given before having an infection with these types. With so much controversy surrounding the vaccine, we thought we would answer some questions for any hesitant mommas.
My child is only 11 for goodness sakes. They aren’t having sex, so why do they need the vaccine right now?
The HPV vaccine offers protection from the virus only if given before coming into contact with it. It is the same concept as getting the flu vaccine before flu season. Studies have shown that children produce a higher immune response to the vaccine when receiving it before the age of 15. This also allows them to be fully immunized after 2 doses rather than the 3 doses it would take if they start the series after 15 years old. So yes, we know your child isn’t having sex at 11 years old. We want them to be fully protected from HPV related cancers while also saving them an extra poke.
If my child gets the vaccine now, will they think it’s ok to be promiscuous?
The human papilloma virus is a sexually transmitted infection, yes. However, the vaccine prevents certain types of cancer. It’s as simple as that. When receiving the HPV vaccine along with the two additional 11-12 year old vaccines, TDaP and MCV, there may be less questioning as to why they need it. If your child does ask why, you can tell them the truth: this vaccine prevents cancer.
Isn’t the HPV vaccine dangerous?
We hear this one a lot. The United States has the most effective, safest vaccine supply in the world. The vaccine has been on the market since 2006, with over 270 million doses given worldwide, including 100 million here in America. Clinical studies continue to show the vaccine is very safe. As with all vaccines, side effects can include pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, slight fever, headache, and temporary muscle pain. This is a normal immune response to the vaccine. The truth is the human papilloma virus is dangerous, not the vaccine. HPV can lead to fertility issues from cervical cancer, not to mention surgery, radiation or chemotherapy from HPV related cancers.
Don’t vaccines contain aluminum? I don’t want that heavy metal in my child.
Aluminum is the most common metal found on earth. It is present in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. In fact, during the first 6 months of life, a breastfed baby will consume about 10 milligrams of aluminum from breastmilk, 40 times the amount found in a single dose of HPV. There is more aluminum in a piece of fresh fruit than there is in a dose of HPV vaccine. Aluminum is used in an extremely low dose to help the body form an immune response using a smaller amount of vaccine. So yes, HPV vaccine does contain aluminum, along with fruit, veggies, meat, and even breastmilk.
Hopefully, this clears up some misconceptions on the HPV vaccine. If you still have questions, your child’s medical professional can help guide you. For additional credible vaccine information, visit the following resources: