HPV Vaccine underused according to doctors, mothers have reservations

A new medical study reports the HPV vaccine, aimed at preventing cervical cancer and also sexually transmitted diseases, is underused, but mothers we spoke with in Syracuse on Tuesday indicate they have reservations about it.

"They're one of the few vaccines we have to potect children from cancer," says Upstate University Hospital Pediatrician Dr. Jana Shaw.

The vaccine, a shot which is given in 3 doses for maximum protection, is recommended for children who are not yet sexually active, starting at 9 years old. Recent statistics show that only 33% of eligible girls have gotten the shots (54% got one dose, which provides some protection).

In late 2011, it was recommended that young boys also get the vaccine. "It protects them for genital warts that are pretty common actually in males," says Dr. Shaw, "and it will protect their female partners."

"The stigma that the use of the vaccine may result in increased sexual activity has been around for many years," says Dr. Shaw, "and has been disputed by a good study."

We spoke with several mothers of young children at Tuesday's Downtown Farmer's Market in Clinton Square, with almost all aware of the HPV vaccine.

When asked if they wlll get the shots for their children, most told us they would rely on their doctor's advice. Some indicated they were concerned about risks, all said they wanted to do more reading, especially to keep up on possible side effects.