The vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that causes most cervical cancers as well as cancers of the mouth, throat and penis, is proving remarkably effective. Last year, researchers in New Mexico found that even though HPV vaccination rates are significantly lower than those for other diseases, lesions and other cervical abnormalities had been reduced by half during the vaccine’s first eight years of use.
The vaccine is so effective, even after only two doses, that the CDC changed its recommendation for the vaccine to two doses for pre-teenagers. This change to the vaccine schedule doesn’t just reduce the number of doctor visits, but makes it easier for families to make sure the vaccinations are completed within the right timeline.
But you’ve heard all this from us. So for this last week of National Immunization Awareness Month, when the theme is all about potentially lifesaving vaccinations for pre-teens and teens, we’re letting the creative and caring people on YouTube tell the story of HPV-related cancer and the suffering that could be prevented if vaccination rates were to increase.
Should You Get the HPV Vaccine? This fast-moving video offers a quick yet comprehensive primer to understanding the virus, how the vaccine works, what the objections are of parents who don’t have their children vaccinated and the reasons why those objections don’t hold up to scrutiny. (Quiz: What did a study find about teens who had been given the vaccination? Did it change their sexual behavior? Watch and find out.) The video is science-based and appropriate for both teens and parents.
How Does the HPV Vaccine Work? This minute-and-a-half animated lesson on the immune system by Cancer Council Victoria shows how our bodies fight off germs and how vaccines—specifically the HPV vaccine—mobilizes the immune system to destroy the virus, without actually giving people the virus.
Cervical Cancer Survivor Stories. Hear the stories of those who have had cervical cancer—and one woman whose sister died from it—in this eight-minute discussion created by the American Sexual Health Association. The women also discuss the difference that the HPV vaccine could make in the lives of the next generations of women.
Tonsil Cancer Survivor Frank Summers. Less talked about in the discussions about preventing HPV-related cancer are the cancers that affect men as well as women, including oral and throat cancer. In this two-minute video by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, Frank Summers, a father and a technical rescuer with the Cobb County, Ga., fire department, talks about his diagnosis and difficult treatment for HPV-related cancer of his right tonsil, including surgery and months of chemotherapy and radiation. Doctors are seeing big increases in the number of middle-aged men with these oral and throat cancers, and Summers wonders why all parents wouldn’t automatically get their children vaccinated against a virus that could cause such a terrible disease.
The HPV Vaccine, and Why Your Kids Should Get It: Healthcare Triage. Dr. Aaron Carroll, who produces a series of videos on health, gives seven minutes of straight talk about the HPV vaccine, addressing the myths and rumors head-on. Anyone who watches this will end up well-educated on the topic and ready to address the concerns raised by vaccine-hesitant parents.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
Fight Cancer. Get Vaccinated.
What We Know About HPV Vaccine Safety
How Coincidences Shape Views of Vaccines--and Shouldn't