PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More adolescents are getting the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine. But a report from Independence Blue Cross shows that, despite the rise, HPV vaccination lags behind other adolescent vaccines in the Philadelphia region.
In the Philadelphia area, less than half of all children 11 to 13 years of age got the vaccine that protects against the cancer-causing virus, but more than 90 percent got their routine vaccines for other illnesses, according to that report.
“If you had to pick the vaccine that’s most likely to save lives that we give to our children, it’s influenza, and if you had to pick the second one, it’s Human Papilloma Virus vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offit, Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “If it’s used by everyone for whom it’s recommended, it will save 5,000 people from dying needlessly from cancer. It is a cancer preventing vaccine.”
Offit says there is misinformation circulating about the vaccine safety, and that’s one reason more parents don’t get it for their kids.
“No vaccine has been tested in more people post licensure than this one,” he said. “It’s been formally tested in more than a million people and found to be safe and effective.”
And Offit believes there’s another reason why more parents aren’t getting their kids vaccinated for HPV.
“This virus is only transmitted by sexual contact and some people are very uncomfortable having that conversation about that when the child is 11-13 years of age,” he explained. “That said, one doesn’t have to have that conversation. You can simply say this is a cancer preventing vaccine.”