Preventing HPV and Cervical Cancer: Worth the Shot

Childhood vaccination, especially when funded by the government, has always sparked heated public and scientific debate since its introduction in the 19th century.

Whilst acknowledging the necessity to question what we are putting into our bodies or exposing our children to, when the evidence piles up this high- how can anyone justifiably ignore it?

Human Papilloma Virus (Image sourced from drpinna.com)

Human Papilloma Virus
(Image sourced from drpinna.com

Adding to the evidence is new research from a group of Australian scientists who have banned together to determine the effectiveness of the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine which was introduced to the women of Queensland as a free, three stage vaccination program.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted infection which, if not treated properly, can damage cells in a woman’s cervix (between the uterus and vagina) and lead to the development of cervical cancer.

Two different vaccines for various strains of the HPV virus are available worldwide with vaccine programs for HPV being implemented in over 40 countries. Trials in the lab have shown to be 99% effective against the development of cervical abnormalities as a result of HPV.

In case this result wasn’t enough to convince you, these scientists have now crunched the numbers on how effective the vaccine has proven to be after four years in the ‘real world’.

Results found that compared to women who had not been vaccinated, women who had all three doses of the vaccine were 46% less likely to find high grade cervical abnormalities (like cervical cancer) and 34% less likely to find low grade abnormalities (like genital warts) at their first Pap smear.

Figures and percentages aside, essentially the report is telling us that if we fully vaccinate our children against HPV (which according to the Cancer Council needs to be before they are sexually active) they are almost half as likely to be cervical cancer- free compared to children who don’t get the jab. Worth it? I think yes.

A free HPV vaccination is available for 12-13 year olds. (Image sourced from www.kerrvillepediatrician.com)

A free HPV vaccination is available for 12-13 year olds. (Image sourced from www.kerrvillepediatrician.com)

By now you’re probably asking why anyone would question signing the consent form. Studies have shown that the main reasons why parents choose not to vaccinate their children are the age when they have their shots (around 12-13 years old- essential considering the vaccine is far more effective when they have no exposure to HPV infection), scepticism of the vaccine and a lack of trust in the government.

With this new research at hand which is independent of both the government and vaccine producers there should be no qualms about protecting yourself or your children from the development of unnecessary infection or cancer and the treatments associated with these. Finally, you can make the right choice.

Follow these links for more information on-
HPV- http://www.hpv.com.au
National Immunisation Program- http://hpv.health.gov.au

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