Our teens face an 80 percent risk of becoming infected with cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV). Safe, effective vaccines are available to protect our youth, but are not widely used.
Only 24.1 percent of Utah girls age 13 to 17 have completed the three-dose series of vaccinations, and fewer than 10 percent of Utah boys are protected.
More important, the vaccines can only protect a child from infection if the vaccine is given before being exposed to the virus.
Some parents worry that agreeing to HPV vaccines will be interpreted as permission for their teen to engage in risky behaviors. Research shows that being vaccinated for HPV does not increase sexual activity.
All parents are afraid for their kids. As proud bystanders, we cheer our children’s brave and deft athletics. With full hearts, we watch as they walk, confidently and sure-footed, the high-wire act called adolescence.
We want them to know that we trust them. But, we also know that one slip or misstep could lead to disaster. As loving parents, we want to trust them to make only perfect steps — only perfect choices — but we still must place a safety net to protect them.
William E. Cosgrove, M.D., FAAP
American Academy of Pediatrics
Salt Lake City
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