It’s safe to say that we all want what’s best for our families and ourselves – especially when it comes to our health and health care decisions. It is for this reason that the topic of vaccination safety has been so fiercely debated over recent years. The public has questioned their necessity, efficacy and much more. Most recently, Katie Couric jumped on the dramatic anti-vaccine band wagon when her show “The HPV Vaccine Controversy” aired. This particular episode discredited the HPV vaccine and cast an unfavorable light on the issue by highlighting a story of a young woman that passed away just 18 days after receiving her final HPV vaccination shot. The message this information portrays is loud and clear – and erroneous.
The irresponsibility of this type of media attention not only reflects poorly on those who present the information, but it has the potential to put many women at risk to suffer the effects of the HPV virus and potential cervical cancer diagnosis by deterring them from the vaccination.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, affecting about 20 million Americans currently and an additional 6 million each year. The HPV vaccine prevents 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts and has safely been used around the world for several years saving the lives of hundreds to thousands of women. The HPV vaccine is FDA approved and recommended for females between the ages of 9 to 26 and is usually given by the pediatrician at about the age of 13. Young males should also receive their vaccine. The vaccine is given in three steps: the initial dose, a dose one to two months after the initial dose and a third dose approximately six months after dose one. With boys and girls alike, it’s important that vaccination be completed prior to any sexual activity.
While Dr. Brady is usually a fan of Katie Couric, this particular episode was a disappointment and did not portray the scientific evidence. Ms. Couric later apologized for the show’s bias and emphasized that both of her daughters have received their HPV vaccinations. We urge our patients and/or their mothers who have concerns regarding the HPV vaccine to openly discuss them with Dr. Brady. She can provide our Dallas patients and their parents with essential information to determine if the vaccine is indeed in the best interest of the patient and her family.