ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - It was the vaccination that caused some controversy a decade ago, but the Centers for Disease Control recently published a study showing that the rates of HPV infection have dropped, since the CDC recommended a vaccine. East Texas health officials are leading a campaign to keep these numbers dropping.
It was a topic that caused uneasiness to parents around the country. The vaccination was a series of shots that would aim towards preventing a sexually transmitted disease, but was suggested for pre-teens.
"The vaccine works the best at that point in time," said Ann Watson, Registered Nurse for Angelina County and Cities Health District.
The human papillomavirus virus vaccination was just too new for some parents back in 2006.
"It's a very safe vaccine. It's recommended by the CDC and has been approved by the FDA," Watson said.
A study that spans nine years by the CDC show the shots appear to be worthwhile.
"If people will get the vaccine, we have the chance to stamp out cervical cancer by two-thirds. If they would just get the vaccine," Watson said.
The CDC compared HPV rates from between 2003 and 2006 - that's pre-vaccination recommendation - with HPV rates from 2009 through 2012.
That study revealed that HPV rates for girls between 14 and 19 dropped from 11.5 percent to 4.percent. That's why Angelina County and Cities Health District is leading a campaign.
"We've teamed up with the Children's Clinic and Angelina Pediatrics, and we are doing a campaign county wide to educate people about the need for getting the HPV vaccine for their children," Watson said.
The need is even larger in Texas. These CDC maps show that Texas is among states with the most cases of HPV-associated cervical, vaginal, and even penile cancer.
"We saw a need in our community to get people educated on getting this vaccine for their children," Watson said.
Watson said the "birds and the bees" conversation is of course up to parents, but the health district has one goal.
"We're not trying to open the door for sexual activity. We are trying to close the door for cervical cancer at a later time in their life," Watson said.
Watson says the organizations didn't want children left out of getting the vaccine because of its price. They offer shots as low as $15 per shot to those who qualify.