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HPV Vaccination to be Made Mandatory in Florida Public Schools

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In today’s world, it’s difficult to find someone that hasn’t been affected by cancer. Cancer has been known to rip families apart and cause an immense amount of pain and suffering. Unfortunately, the ways in which cancer can develop are vast, and sometimes cancer can come at us from the contraction of another virus, like HPV. In an attempt to reduce the occurrences of cancer caused by HPV, the state of Florida is jumping on board by making the vaccine mandatory in public schools. Read on to learn the details of the new bill.

Understanding The Dangers of HPV

HPV is short for human papillomavirus. It is a group of more than 150 related virus’ that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, affecting both men and women. Some types of HPV can lead to cancer.

HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives, and it can be passed from person to person even when no signs or symptoms are visible[1]. About 79 million Americans are currently living with HPV, with 14 million people becoming newly infected each year[2].

You can develop cases of HPV years after being infected, making it very difficult to figure out when the infection was first transmitted. In many cases, HPV will go away on its own, but when it does not go away it can cause health problems, like genital warts and cancer[1].

Each year, HPV causes 30,700 cases of cancer in men and women in the United States. [3].

Florida Bill Will Make HPV Vaccination Mandatory in Public Schools

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Some states are seeing the health risks caused by HPV and so, in an attempt to reduce the risk of infection, are passing a bill to make HPV vaccination mandatory in public schools.

Senate Bill 1558, entitled the “Women’s Cancer Prevention Act”, will require all children aged 11 and 12 within Florida public schools to receive the HPV vaccination[4]. This includes both male and female students. The act will take effect July 1, 2018.

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The state will enforce the bill by refusing to allow unvaccinated children to attend public schools. 

Other states are following a similar belief system and setting up vaccine requirements for children. Currently, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington D.C. are the only states to make the vaccination a requirement. 

The CDC states that all children should be getting the vaccine, starting at age 11. This includes all males and females, regardless of their sexuality[3].

While the vaccination is highly recommended by government officials, there are many who disagree with the effectiveness of the HPV vaccination!

The Flip Side of the HPV Vaccination: Is It Actually Effective?

In 2013 an oncology dietitian published a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases which evaluated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2003-2006 and 2007-2010 to examine the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine [5]. Researchers originally concluded that the vaccine was extremely effective, however, a consequent review of the study disagreed.

 

In 2013 a systematic review was conducted of pre and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine by researchers at the University of British Columbia. They found that the effectiveness of the vaccine is not only overstated, but also unproven[6].

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They state that “the claim that HPV vaccination will result in approximately 70% reduction of cervical cancers is made despite the fact that the clinical trials data have not demonstrated to date that the vaccines have actually prevented a single case of cervical cancer (let alone cervical cancer death), nor that the current overly optimistic surrogate marker-based extrapolations are justified[6].”

Moreover, countless families have been very vocal about their concerns about the HPV vaccine; people like Kathleen Berrett of Utah who has openly shared the story of her teen son Colton who was paralyzed and eventually passed away after receiving the Gardasil vaccine. Kathleen is convinced that there’s a connection their medical team missed. 

Whether you’re for or against the HPV vaccination, it’s clear that more research into the matter needs to be conducted. There are, though, ways in which you can educate yourself and your children, and lower the risk of HPV.

How to Lower the Risk of HPV

Do Your Research

New research is constantly being conducted regarding the HPV vaccination and its effectiveness. Continue to do your research, and learn as much as you can so that you can remain updated for new developments regarding the vaccine, be they positive or negative.

Get Screened for Cervical Cancer

Go to your doctor routinely to get screened for cervical cancer. During the past few decades, screening has reduced deaths from cervical cancer because doctors have been able to diagnose and treat the disease in its early stages[7]. All women should begin cervical screening at age 21, and in general, it is recommended that a Pap test should be conducted every 3 years[7].

Use Condoms and Be Open to Discussion with Your Partner

If you are sexually active it’s important that you are open with your partner and discuss any questions or concerns that you may have. In addition, use appropriate protection, such as a condom, because it can lower your chances of getting HPV[2]. However, it’s important to note that HPV can be spread to areas not covered by the condom, so this is not an entire solution to the problem.

The HPV vaccination is shrouded in uncertainties, and at the end of the day it’s important for you to do what’s best for yourself, and continue to learn as much as you can. Staying on top of the scientific trends, and discussing your options with a doctor will be a major contributing factor to keep you safe and healthy.

SOURCES:

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[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, Dec. 20). What is HPV? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/whatishpv.html

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, Nov. 16). Genital HPV Infection-Facts Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, Aug. 24). HPV Vaccines: Vaccinating Your Preteen or Teen. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/vaccine.html

[4] Senator Rodriguez. (2018). SB 1558. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2018/1558/BillText/__/PDF

[5] Markowitz LE, Hariri S, Lin C, Dunne EF, Steinau M, McQuillan G, Unger ER. (2013, Aug.). Reduction in Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Prevalence Among Young Women Following HPV Vaccine Introduction in the United States, Nation Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2003-2010. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23785124

[6] Tomljenovic L, Spinosa JP, Shaw CA. (2013). Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines as an Option for Preventing Cervical Malignancies: (How) Effective and Safe? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23016780

[7] Stacey Simon. (2012, Mar. 14). New Screening Guidelines for Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/new-screening-guidelines-for-cervical-cancer.html

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