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HPV Vaccine Needs An ‘Opt Out’ Option To Make Parents Happy

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Parents have no problem with the controversial human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine as long as there is an “opt out” option, a new study reports.

The HPV vaccine is unique in that it is the only one created specifically for the purpose of preventing cancer, making it a highly beneficial vaccine. It has the full support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends it for pre-adolescents ages 11 and 12.

This vaccine also has one of the strongest safety records among others and is proven very effective in keeping the infections that cause the majority of cervical cancer, anal cancer, throat and neck cancers, vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers.

But even with these impressive statistics, researchers have found that parents are reluctant to give their children the HPV vaccine, and will only be a hundred percent willing if they can choose to opt out.

According to the research, 21% of those surveyed thought that laws making the vaccine mandatory in schools were “a good idea,” and the number jumped to 57% when participants were asked if they would be receptive to the vaccine should an opt-out provision be included.

Wiliam Calo, the study author from the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina, says, “We were expecting a higher number of parents supporting vaccine requirements.”

The response is a paradox of sorts, because while an opt-out clause makes parents likelier to accept HPV vaccine laws, it would also weaken the cause. As of now, only Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia require students to take the HPV vaccine.

HPV infects an estimated 80 million people worldwide, so researchers say the reason for the reluctances towards the vaccine might lie in a lack of knowledge regarding the benefits of the vaccine.

Of the respondents surveyed, only 40% knew that the HPV vaccine prevented cervical cancer. Moreover, 23% believed that the vaccine would cause long-term health problems, 33% felt they needed more information before allowing their kids to be vaccinated and 33% more thought drug companies were merely out to make profits.

According to the CDC, the most damaging belief — that the HPV vaccine causes health complications and even death — are greatly overstated. Between 2006 and 2015, 80 million doses of the HPV vaccine were given, with 117 deaths reported — none of which the CDC says were directly related to the vaccine.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, says he’s not surprised. “There has been a terrible job of promoting it. The funds have not been there to promote the vaccine as part of a comprehensive vaccination program.”

A better word-of-mouth campaign, including information from doctors and health care providers, would go a long way towards educating parents on HPV vaccination, Tech Times reports.

The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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