HPV vaccine safely prevents cancer. Here’s how we know.
Since its release, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been embroiled in controversy. Many people with concerns question its safety; others question the need for it. Regardless, the end result is the same — young people who could be protected against some forms of cancer later in life are passing up the opportunity, either directly or as the result of a decision made by their parents.
From a public health perspective, this is like watching an unnecessary tragedy develop in slow motion. In the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released in August 2019, about 2 of every 3 teens between 13 and 17 years of age had received at least one dose of HPV vaccine, but only about half of them had completed the recommended number of doses. In contrast, in late 2018, Australia celebrated being on track to eliminate HPV as a public health problem within the next two decades. In 2016, the latest data available, about 3 of every 4 boys and 4 of every 5 girls in Australia had completed the HPV vaccine series by the age of 15 years. Australia used the quadrivalent HPV vaccine (HPV-4, Gardasil®) and switched to the nine-valent HPV vaccine in 2018.
Find out more about the studies evaluating HPV vaccine safety, particularly concerns about chronic or autoimmune diseases, and see five reasons the adage by Ben Franklin, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” applies to HPV vaccine.