Current Affairs, Health & Wellness, Home & Family

9 Year Old Girls Should Get HPV Vaccines and Other Vaccination and Immunization Myths and Misconceptions

Every year there is about 6 to 10,000 women reported to have cervical cancer.

This could have been prevented if girls will be administered her first HPV vaccine by the age of 9 years old or Elementary Level Grade 4.

While this sounds absurd and however cliché it sounds, prevention is always better than cure.  Having given a girl her first HPV vaccine as early as this age or the time she has not been exposed or has not become sexually active yet, this is the time when the vaccine is most effective.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus), a family of viruses, has two strains that are linked to 80 percent of cervical cancer cases. While there are two HPV vaccines (bivalent and quadrivalent) available in the market, their uptake is affected by existing stigma. The stigma having been assumed to be sexually active or promiscuous.

Because of this the Department of Health will implement a free HPV vaccination to select Grade 4 students from the poorest provinces/cities/regions in the country (with parental consent) and then the second vaccine will be administered when they enter highschool or the assumed age that they are sexually active.

“Since HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, some parents do not consider vaccination as a necessity for their kids,” said Society of Adolescent Medicine of the Philippines (SAMP) Adviser Dr. Rosa Maria Nancho. “But these vaccinations are recommended at a certain age (9 years old) because that is when they’re most effective.”

She added, “Pre-exposure vaccination (which means vaccination before the child is exposed) is a corner stone of successful immunization programs against the world’s cluster of preventable diseases.”

This is just one of the many vaccination myths and misconceptions talked about at the Usapang Bakuna held at Museum Café in Makati with Dr. Nancho DOH Secretary Janette Garin , and Dr. Benjamin Co, a Clinical Pharmacologist and Associate Member of the Pediatric Infectious Disease of the Philippines and Fellow of the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS)

Aside from the HPV vaccine,  they also discussed how the measles vaccine does not cause autism.

A now retracted study linking MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine) to autism has been discouraging the vaccine’s uptake. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) described the 1998 study as an ‘elaborate fraud’ that altered the medical histories of all 12 patients that formed its basis.

According to Dr. Co, “Wakefield’s study has done long-lasting damage to health. But we need to remain focused on why vaccines were discovered and balance the benefits and risks of the disease, especially among children and the vulnerable community. As stated by the Measles Rubella Initiative, Measles is a leading cause of death among children around the world, with 400 dying every day.”

Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no scientific evidence to support claims that measles vaccination may be a risk factor for autism. Additionally, studies have shown that immunization does not lead to permanent neurological problems.(But personally, as a parent of a person with autism, I still question this no matter how many study they show.  Personally, I suspect MMR vaccine to have triggered my daughter’s autism.)

Vaccinations save millions of lives worldwide on a yearly basis. Despite the progress of immunization efforts in the country, however, several factors remain to challenge the total success of such programs.

Based on the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey, six of ten children 12‐23 months (62 percent) were fully immunized; that is, they received the seven basic vaccinations before their first birthday.  More than 90 percent of the children received first doses each of  vaccines – DPT ( diphtheria-pertussis-tetnaus), polio  and Hepa‐B.  However, same children will not complete the succeeding second and third doses required for the full protection and only 78% finishes the measles vaccination at 9 months old.  . .. Rather than problems on resources and reach, challenge of completion of such programs is being stunted by the myths and speculations surrounding immunization.

The DOH Secretary said these immunization vaccines for babies are FREE including maternal and child care at all public health centre.

“It’s not just protecting your children but protecting your community,” Secretary Garin expounded.

The government is also contemplating on having child immunization record a requirement before accepting a child in a school.  If immunization is incomplete the child will not be enrolled.

“By this way we are giving the parents more responsibility with regards to their child’s health.  This is a way to push parents to have more responsibility with regards to immunization. What we handed to them should be handled responsibly,” Dr. Nancho said.

Anyway, whichever you look at it, vaccines do work, unlike those times when the vaccines were not invented where there were outbreaks and thousands of deaths via diseases now preventable via these vaccines.

Like I mentioned earlier, FREE vaccines and immunization including childcare are administered in public health centers, this is funded by the government from the taxpayers money, so make use of it!

Stay healthy and gorgeous everyone!

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