Three doses of HPV vaccine not necessary for cancer prevention, study says

By Amber James |
Graphic by Gena Anderson
There has been much controversy throughout the years surrounding Gardisil and Cervarix, two FDA approved vaccines that help prevent cervical cancer.

Most recently, Republican presidential hopeful, Michele Bachmann, said the humanpaillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can cause mental retardation, after she met a mother who said it caused mental retardation in her daughter.

“You don’t just wake up and have a learning disability,” Bethany Johnson, an elementary education major, said.

Flagler student Karly Berezowsky, an English and communication major, agrees.

“I don’t agree with what Michele Bachmann said at all,” she said. “You can’t go on national news and sit there and scare an entire generation. Those shots prevent cancer.”

Bachmann’s comments don’t help the HPV vaccine’s popularity, as it already has low take-up rates in the United States.

Only Virginia and Washington D.C. require mandatory vaccination to attend school, despite the vaccine’s attempt to prevent nearly 100 percent of the precancerous cervical cell changes caused by HPV 16 and HPV 18.

Women are recommended to get three doses of the vaccine.

In 2010, around 49 percent of girls ages 13 to 17 received one dose of the vaccine, but only 32 percent received all three doses, according to the CDC.

Reasons for only taking one or two doses of the HPV vaccine vary from girl to girl.

Johnson only got one out of the three recommended doses.

“I moved out of the country and never found a doctor,” she said.

But a new study from the National Cancer Institute offers hope for young women who don’t receive all three doses.

Women enrolled in the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial were supposed to get all three doses of the vaccine. But around 20 percent of the 7,466 enrollees were not able to have the full series. Four years after the vaccination, similar levels of protection against HPV 16 and HPV 18 were found among women who took one, two and three doses.

However, more research needs to be conducted before the findings are concrete, the study said.

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