Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate Their Kids Against HPV Are Seriously Benefiting From Those Who Do

By  | 

HPV vaccineThe HPV vaccine may make everyone from parents of sons to even some pediatricians uncomfortable. Between general anxieties about vaccinations and the notion that a cancer preventative is going to turn tweens  into sex-crazed heathens, we’re sadly not at a place in which everyone is on the same page with regard to HPV prevention. Yet, even if you’ve decided against the vaccine for personal parenting reasons, your kids are actually benefiting from the pro-vaccine parenting decisions of others.

ABC news reports that although Gardasil does decrease the rate of “high risk types of HPV infections” in girls and women by a massive 69%, their vaccination also indirectly protects those who have not been vaccinated, defined as “herd immunity.” Girls and women who had not been vaccinated saw their risk drop by 49% when inhabiting the same communities as those who had been vaccinated, according to a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study.

Yet, doctors maintain that even if you’re totally willing to rely on the vaccination efforts of other parents as a primary means of keeping cancer off your kid, you shouldn’t abandon the vaccine altogether. Dr. Jessica Kahn, the leader of the study, noted that although she found the results to be surprising, they cannot be “generalized” to suggest that you, as a parent, don’t need to be making that Gardasil appointment. In fact, the herd immunity greatly depends on the majority of parents getting those shots:

“I think it is important to point out to potential vaccine recipients that herd immunity is routinely achieved when greater than 80 percent of the population has been vaccinated,” said Robert Rose, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y. “Thus, it is incumbent upon immune-competent individuals to participate in the vaccine effort in order to protect those who are in one way or another immune-compromised.”

So not only do your son’s future girlfriend’s parents thank you for that HPV vaccine, but as do all the other parents in the doctor’s waiting room whose efforts against cervical, vaginal, and anal cancers are bettering kids everywhere.

(photo: itsmejust/ Shutterstock)