Pediatricians Educating on HPV: February 20, 2014

The HPV vaccine seems to be flat lining. Now pediatricians are trying to get parents to take a second look at a shot program aimed to prevent certain cancers.

“It’s more about a conversation every time they come in. We talk to you about the plus and minuses what questions do you have,” says Dr. Denise Drago, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Parental uncertainty was found to be the shot’s biggest obstacle a review of 55 different studies looked at why the vaccination rate remains low compared to other childhood shots.

“There tend to be two distinct camps. People who are ‘ok I think this is a good idea, any shot that can protect against cancer is a good thing’. And then there are parents who still have their concerns,” says Dr. Drago.

The HPV vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus, which is sexually transmitted. The series of shots are aimed at cervical cancers along with oral, penile, rectal cancers and genital warts. It’s recommended boys and girls get it before they’re sexually active. The connection to sex is often the sticking point.

“I am raising Catholic, conservative boys who will probably not need that,” says Erin VanGrinsven

A mother of five boys, VanGrinsven is opting out.

“They have a pretty clean lifestyle and I just don’t believe in adding anything unnatural to that,” says VanGrinsven.

The challenge for pediatricians is to present information and address concerns.

“I think in the future when there’s more publicity about cervical cancer rates going down or the things that it can do, it will get more accepted,” says Dr. Drago.