Doctor says vaccinate sooner, not later

By Christel Phillips - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KLTV) - Some East Texas doctors are concerned that the HPV vaccine is available for girls but they are not getting it.

"About 50% are opting out and say no, they don't want it," said Dr. Cristina Graves, a pediatrician.

Because the HPV vaccine is for sexually transmitted disease, Dr. Graves says she has to convince parents why it is needed.

"The time in which we give it is age 12," explained Graves. "Most of the time cervical cancer and HPV are not on these parents' minds. These are young girls who are likely not going to get HPV right now.

She adds many parents are worried because the vaccine is new to the market. "The reality is it's been well studied, and up to this point it has been shown to be very effective and very safe."

According to Texas State Health Services, a routine vaccination is recommended for girls ages 11 to 12. And a "catch- up" vaccination is for girls and women 13 to 26 who did not receive it when they were younger.

OB/GYN Cheryl Suiter, recommends that girls get the vaccine as earler as possible, she explains, "By the age of 24, 21% have been exposed to the HPV virus."

Waiting until they are teenager instead of pre-teen could be too late.

"If they come between 12 to 18 their coming in for sick visits, they're not talking about vaccines, they can't get vaccines because they're ill, they're hardly coming in, and their off to college and we forgot," said Graves.

Dr. Graves believes the HPV vaccine is a way of securing our young girl's lives.

"We need to protect their daughters future whether that be in 10 years or 5 years or whatever the case maybe," said Graves.

Doctors say the vaccine does not protect against all forms of cervical cancer. So it is important for women to get regular screenings.

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