Before I say too much, I want you to know that I am not an expert on vaccines, and am not either recommending, or not recommending that you or your children get the HPV vaccine. I do think it's interesting to critically think through this article and the recommendations that accompany it.
According to this article, the safety concerns of parents in regards to the HPV vaccine nearly quadrupled between 2008 and 2010. HealthDay News doesn't tell us which study actually found this out, merely using using the catch words of "experts" and "study." I'd be curious to know how the study actually measured these concerns, since there could certainly be room for error here. Did the concerns really quadruple?
The article also states that, "There are more than 100 strains of HPV....". It's true that there are many different strains of HPV, but to emphasize this when focusing on the HPV vaccine seems a little over dramatic since the HPV vaccine is only effective against 4 strains of HPV(1).
But what really jumps out the most to me is that the article states that,
"...the worries [about safety] seem specific to the HPV vaccine. Parents in the study were also asked about two other vaccines recommended for teenagers: the "Tdap" vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough; and the "MCV4" vaccine against bacterial meningitis -- a potentially fatal inflammation around the brain and spinal cord. Across the study period, less than 1 percent of parents cited safety concerns over those two vaccines."This makes sense to me-- think about the different modes of transmission. Tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and meningitis are all highly contagious and can be transmitted in an everyday
setting. HPV is different. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. I believe that's at least part of the reason why it was reported that just over 17% of parents said that the HPV vaccine was "not necessary."
The ways of acquiring HPV are directly related to a specific lifestyle, whereas the other diseases can be acquired simply by going to the grocery store or stepping on a rusty nail. And that is a difference that ought to be considered when thinking about this vaccine.
No matter how safe a medical intervention is, there will always be associated risks and costs (at least to someone). In critically thinking about this, we must weigh these risks and benefits. The article may be right that there are very few risks associated with the vaccine, but we should also be careful to think about the potential benefits since this disease is a result of a lifestyle that is chosen.
But anyways, just some musing on how the HPV vaccine is a little different ideologically than other vaccines.
What do you think though? Is a different mode of transmission for the disease a big enough difference to put this vaccine in a different sort of category? Or, does it all just seem the same to you?
(1) CDC. (2012). Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/HPV/index.html. Accessed 3/27/2013