More parents forgoing HPV vaccinations for children

Doctors say benefits far outweigh risks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The human papillomavirus, or HPV, protects against genital warts in both men and women and, most importantly, helps prevent cervical cancer in women.

The vaccination involves a set of three shots given in a six-month time frame.

Teens and even kids have always been encouraged to get the vaccination, but research shows fewer parents are having their children vaccinated due to safety concerns.

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma found that in 2010, about three-quarters of girls ages 13 to 17 were not up to date on their HPV series, and 44 percent of parents said they didn't plan on getting their daughters the rest.

More parents are foregoing the vaccination for their children because of fears the vaccination itself will make them sick. But OBGYN Dr. Priya Thirumlai says the benefits of the HPV vaccination far outweigh the risks.

"Our young boys and girls are sexually active at a younger age, so by getting them vaccinated against these two diseases, our hope is to one day decrease the incidents of both of these diseases," Thirumlai said. "The risks of cervical cancer and genital warts and, more importantly, stopping the spread of these diseases than the benefit definitely outweighs that risk."

Thirumlai strongly recommends anyone ages 9 to 26 to get the vaccination whether they are sexually active or not. Though research shows fewer parents having their children vaccinated, there are still those who wouldn't think twice.

"If there's something out there to prevent them from getting diseases, they should take every advantage to do that," Brenda Rosier said.

Vaccinations can be found at most pediatricians, OBGYNs and health departments.