HPV vaccine

A Vaccine to Prevent Cancer – Is It Safe?

As a parent and a physician, I spend a fair amount of time dreaming about a world free of cancer. While that dream is far from reality, every day we are making new progress in the fight against cancer. And the great news is, there is a vaccine that is safe, effective, readily available and prevents certain types of cancer. So, why aren’t parents lining up around the block for this vaccine for their children? Well, it’s a little complicated and I will do my best to persuade you that you should be on this bandwagon.

We have two vaccines that prevent infection with the virus that causes cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers. This virus is called Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. Infection with the HPV strains that cause genital warts and cancers are generally acquired through sexual contact. Many parents, understandably, feel a bit squeamish with the idea that their kids will be someday involved in sexual relationships. It is, though, quite likely to happen eventually. In fact, about 4 out of 5 adults test positive for having had an HPV infection at some point in their lives. So, it is very likely that your kids are going to be exposed to this virus … someday.

It is believed that vaccination against HPV would prevent about 7,000 HPV-associated cancers in the United States each year in men and about 15,000 HPV-associated cancers in the United States in women. The vaccines, called Gardasil™ and Cervarix™, are very safe. The Gardasil™ vaccine also includes vaccination against the HPV strains that cause genital warts. Both vaccines are shots and require three doses to complete the series.

It is recommended that boys and girls start HPV vaccination at age 11 or 12. Once a person has been infected with HPV, the vaccine is less effective. So, we recommend this vaccine to be given long before sexual activity usually begins. As well, the vaccine appears to generate the strongest antibody response when given at this age, compared to an older age.

I hope that you will take this opportunity to learn more about HPV vaccination. If you have additional questions, your pediatrician is a great source of information. The Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) has helpful fact sheets and FAQ’s as well.

Let’s do our kids a favor and stamp out this type of preventable cancer.

Elise Berlan, MD
Elise DeVore Berlan, MD, MPH, is a member of the Section of Adolescent Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is also a wife and a mom to two young boys. Dr. Berlan loves to bike, travel and read. She is also interested in volunteer work and helped to start an international health charity called Medicine for Mali.

2 thoughts on “A Vaccine to Prevent Cancer – Is It Safe?

  1. You have got to be kidding. Do you have any concerns about the large number of young woman that have already been harmed and present with new medical conditions, and non recovered from outcomes after this vaccine, one or all three doses? How about the number of deaths claimed due to Gardasil. Cervarix is showing the same or similar outcome. The only safety studies that have been done, were done by Merck and those studies are simply an aversion to any form of reality and truth.please start doing some unbiased research. Does the issue of the now known Gardasil contamination, concern you at all, or did you not even know about that? HPV DNA of the vaccine derived strain was found in the vaccine, the same DNA that merck claimed was not in the vaccine. that DNA is known firmly attached to the vaccine aluminum adjuvant, and that potentially is a very serious risk to the immediate and long term health of any person who takes the vaccine. Both the FDA and the CDC are aware of this and have done nothing but whitewash the information, as their having been to this point, no scientific proof of the and any harm. They do know better, but they are covering it up. They know that for this vaccine at this point after all the hype about its safety and benefits, to receive a recall from the FDA; would destroy all confidence left in the vaccine program. It would cause a major shock wave to ever admit that this vaccine should never have been approved to start with. You never even once addressed the issue in this article of if Gardasil is safe, and you entirely ignored that issue, even though the title of this article has that question in it.

    Gardasil The Real Truth

    FDA Reply Letter – and Further Questions Raised on Gardasil

  2. Morgan Passmore on said:

    Dear Lowell – thank you for taking the time to read our blog. We are always interested in engaging in scientific discourse with our readers. The scientific evidence on this vaccine, to date, however, absolutely supports its safety and efficacy. Accordingly, we advocate for following the Center for Disease Control’s routine vaccination schedule, which includes routine vaccination for girls and boys with the HPV vaccination. – Elise Berlan, MD

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