HPV vaccine remains controversial

Vaccine not required for Texas students

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

For a lot of kids, back to school means vaccinations.  

The human papillomavirus or HPV vaccine, which is not required in Texas, remains controversial.

The vaccine can prevent sexually transmitted infections and several different cancers.

While the topic may be tough for parents to consider for a pre-teen, doctors said that's the age to be thinking about getting vaccinated.

Dr. Wendy Proskin, a pediatrician, said the HPV vaccination is important.

"It's the only vaccine that we have that prevents cancer," Proskin said.

About 79 million Americans are infected with the HPV virus, and about 14 million new infections occur every year. Half of those infections happen to people between the ages of 15 and 24.

"It doesn't discriminate by gender. HPV is the most commonly-sexually transmitted infection in both males and females. It can cause genital warts and several different cancers, including cervical and cancer of the mouth and throat," said Consumer Reports Medical Director Dr. Orly Avitzur.

Studies have found the vaccine can be nearly 100 percent effective. Despite the effectiveness, many parents are wary of it.

A new study for a cancer prevention group showed that many parents would support a requirement for vaccination as long as people can opt out.

The vaccination is given as a series of three injections. While it's most effective when given before kids are sexually active, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention said it may be given through the age of 26.

"Parents question why they're giving it to their 11-year-old, but concerns about it encouraging sexual promiscuity are unfounded," Avitzur said. "It is an important conversation for parents and doctors to have."

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