In a recent letter to the editor titled "HPV immunizations for 6th grader?," Pastor Jason Olson's remarks regarding the moral implications of the HPV vaccine are well-articulated. It is clear the Human Papillomavirus (or HPV) vaccine has become a topic for debate. Emmet County Public Health fully supports and encourages parents to make a thoughtful decision about all aspects of their child's health, including immunizations.
Each year in the United States, cervical cancer is diagnosed in more than 9,700 women and causes 3,700 deaths. Seventy percent of cervical cancers are caused by strains of HPV included in the HPV vaccine. According to the CDC, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States; currently, more than 20 million men and women are infected with HPV, and more than 6 million are estimated to become infected each year.
HPV is most common in young women and men in their late teens and early 20s.
Ideally, females should receive the HPV vaccine before they become sexually active and exposed to HPV this is why it is recommended beginning at 11 years of age.
Emmet County Public Health supports administration of the HPV vaccine because it prevents most strains of the virus that causes cervical cancer. HPV is also associated with several less common cancers, such as vaginal and vulvar cancers in women and other types of cancer in both men and women.
While the decision regarding the HPV vaccination may become an ethical or moral issue in some circles, public health supports the vaccine purely on the basis of disease prevention.
Kathy Preston RN
Emmet County Public Health Director