Henderson discusses the HPV Vaccine

Anita S. Henderson, MD, a pediatrician with Hattiesburg Clinic The Pediatric Clinic,  recently discussed the poor adoption of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in Mississippi and concerns parents have voiced when presented with the choice to vaccinate their children from the virus.

The Mississippi State Department of Health states HPV is a common virus that can develop genital warts and, in some cases, cervical and genital cancers in women and men. Vaccinating your child against this virus at age 11 or 12 will help protect them from certain cancers later in life. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 39 percent of Mississippi teens were up to date on their two-dose HPV vaccine in 2021. That is well below the 65 percent national average.

Dr. Henderson said most parents, when asked about the HPV vaccination, respond with, “My child is too young for that.” Those parents associate the HPV vaccine with sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention.

“That [STI prevention] is not what the HPV vaccine was developed for – it was developed to prevent cancers,” Henderson said. “And unfortunately, I think the misinformation around this vaccine has played a significant role in its poor uptake.”

According to the CDC, 85 percent of people will get an HPV infection in their lifetime. They also state infections that cause most HPV-related cancers and genital warts have dropped 88 percent among teen girls and 81 percent among young, adult women since the introduction of the vaccine.

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