HPV Vaccine: The Safe Choice for Your Kids

Dear Mr. Dad: I have boy/girl twins who are 11. Their pediatrician suggested that my daughter get a vaccine for HPV, but he didn’t offer it to my son. I’ve got three questions. First, why didn’t he suggest the vaccine for my son? Second, why are they offering a vaccine against sexually transmitted diseases to 11-year-olds anyway—isn’t that too early? Third, it seems to me that vaccinating kids against STDs will only make them more likely to have sex and less careful than they ordinarily would be. Am I right?

A: That’s a lot of questions, so let’s jump right in. But a warning: This column will include some adult words, so reader discretion is advised.

Your pediatrician should have recommended the HPV vaccine to your son. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of a number of cancers are attributed to HPV. For girls, these include cancer of the cervix or anus (over 90%), vagina and throat (over 75%). Boys are also just as susceptible to anal and throat cancers, plus HPV causes nearly two thirds of cancers of the penis. HPV is also linked with nearly 100% of genital warts—an equal opportunity STD.
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New HPV Vaccine Even More Effective than Before

The Food and Drug Administration just approved Gardasil 9, which covers nine types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus). The previous version of Gardasil covered only 4 types of the virus, which is responsible for many cancers and other conditions. According to the FDA, Gardasil 9 has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers, and genital warts. Current recommendations are that boys and girls be vaccinated starting at age 11. Anyone under 26 who hasn’t been vaccinated should be.

You’d think that with results like that, parents would be lining up to get their children vaccinated. But you’d be wrong. Way wrong. The New York City Health Department found earlier this year that only 47% of boys aged 13-17 and 64% of girls aged 13-17 in have received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine. In order to be most effective, three doses are recommended. But just 40% of girls aged 13-17 and 22% of boys aged 13-17 in New York City have received all three doses. Those numbers varied greatly, depending on the section of the city. In Manhattan, 45.5% to 60.2% of girls aged 13-17 and 15.7% to 26.1% of boys aged 13-17 received all three dose, says the Health Department. But in Staten Island, Central/Southern Brooklyn, and Greenpoint/Williamsburg, just 5.8% to 25.1% of girls aged 13-17 and 0% to 5.9% of boys aged 13-17 had received all three doses.
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Motherhood Smotherhood + Future Families

JJ Keith, author of Motherhood Smotherhood.
Topic:
Fighting back against “experts” who are driving us crazy.
Issues: Babies are more durable than you think; avoiding the hyper-judgmental, contradictory, and incorrect info on the internet; what’s wrong with “it takes a village”; why the “make your own baby food” movement is wrong.


Ross Parke, author of Future Families.
Topic:
Diverse forms, rich possibilities.
Issues: Redefining “family”; changing parental roles; are two mothers (or fathers) good enough?; are multiple caregivers helpful or harmful?; how many “parents” are too many? (insights from the world of assisted reproductive technologies; overcoming the barriers to change.

All You Need is a Shot of Courage

Dear Mr. Dad: I am currently deployed and going to miss the birth of my first. As such, my wife and I decided to hire a doula. We found one and really like her, but unfortunately, she is not vaccinated, nor are her own children. We spoke to my wife’s OB who says there is a very slim chance of anything happening, but there is a chance. How much should we be concerned?

A: A lot. I think it’s a big mistake to go with a doula who doesn’t vaccinate herself or her children.

If your wife has been vaccinated and breastfeeds your baby, her immunity will most likely protect the baby. But we’re talking about a newborn here. Is “most likely protected” or “a slim chance of anything happening” good enough? It wouldn’t be for me–especially when you can reduce the risk to almost zero.
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Vaccine Refusals among Factors Associated with 2010 Pertussis Outbreak in California

whooping cough

There’s been a disturbing anti-vaccine trend in recent years. And while there are possible side effects to vaccines, the risks associated with not being vaccinated are far, far worse. This article, in the latest edition of the journal Pediatrics illustrates what happens when parents don’t vaccinate their children against whooping cough (pertussis). The study uses data from 2010. This year, whooping cough outbreaks have resulted in the deaths of many children. If your children–or you–haven’t been vaccinated, get it done now.

In 2010, 9,120 cases of pertussis – or whooping cough – were reported in California, the most since 1947. Several causes of the outbreak have been documented, including waning immunity of the acellular pertussis vaccine. A new study in the October 2013 Pediatrics examines the role of clusters of individuals who refused the vaccine. The study, “Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions and Pertussis in California, 2010,” published online Sept. 30, analyzes non-medical exemptions for children entering kindergarten from 2005 through 2010, and pertussis cases that were diagnosed in 2010 in California. Researchers identified 39 statistically significant clusters of high rates of non-medical exemptions, and 2 statistically significant clusters of pertussis cases. Census tracks within an exemption cluster were 2.5 times more likely to be in a pertussis cluster. With highly infectious diseases like measles and pertussis, it is estimated that more than 95 percent of the population must be immunized to prevent outbreaks and to reduce the risk of the disease for those too young to be vaccinated or unable to receive vaccines. Study authors conclude that communities with large numbers of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people can lead to pertussis outbreaks, putting vulnerable populations like young infants at increased risk.

Human Oral Papillomavirus—Now There’s a Real Mouthful

Now let’s be clear. Michael Douglas is not a doctor, nor does he play one on TV. But when he recently blamed his bout with throat cancer on having contracted Human Papillomavirus (HPV) from performing oral sex, he may have been on to something. In fact, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, HPV may be [...]