A Rock Solid Investment  -- And Mothers Roll the Dice with the Lives of Their Children:  A Story of Sex, Cancer, and Ignorance
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A Rock Solid Investment -- And Mothers Roll the Dice with the Lives of Their Children: A Story of Sex, Cancer, and Ignorance

I am talking here about a parent’s opportunity and responsibility to ensure that his or her daughter (son too) receives the HPV vaccine (the human papillomavirus vaccine), preferably between the ages of 11 and 12.  This vaccine is an investment of significant proportion in one’s children’s health and future.  It is a no brainer, but, as the data show, many parents are failing their kids.

The HPV vaccine has been approved and licensed by the CDC and the FDA since 2006, and is one of the great advances in American disease prevention in history.  The vaccine prevents cervical cancer in women and also vaginal, throat, tongue, tonsil and penile cancers.  As such, it is recommended strongly for all girls, but also for boys as well.

The bad news is that only about 63% of girls and 50% of boys are getting the vaccine today, making this one of the great tragedies in America and a public health crisis of significant proportions. Put succinctly, the HPV vaccine prevents cancer in Americans – specifically one in four Americans.   One recent study showed that 27% of girls and women tested positive for HPV.  Studies also show that 80% of women will have been infected with genital HPV by the age of 50 and that each year, 11,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,000 will die of it. 

Cancer is a reality in our lives.  And, the HPV vaccine can prevent a common and deadly cancer for women, as well as a host of other cancers for men and women.  It can avoid cancer for many, but only if people will take it. 

Vaccinating our children is just common sense; it is also the obvious thing to do and an imperative for all parents.  But the data show, as for many other vaccines – even the flu vaccine -- parents come up with many excuses for not vaccinating their children.

In the case of the HPV vaccine, mothers especially are reluctant, even embarrassed to discuss dating and sex issues with their young daughters.  This reluctance is at the core of the low rate of HPV vaccination.  But, mothers are doing a terrible disservice to their daughters.  Very simply, playing roulette with their daughters’ loves, in lieu of talking about sex, is a huge mistake.  But, until this is addressed directly by doctors and public health officials, this major opportunity to save lives will be greatly weakened.

It is time for all to wake up and make it a national priority to vaccinate all our children for HPV and to doing so during the best window for its effectiveness – when children are between 11 and 12.  It is not too late to vaccinate children at any age.  So get with it Americans, and do it now.

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to financial literacy and bank transparency. Since co-founding this website in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.
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