Parents pointlessly endangering kids (and adults)

Pediatrician Dr Aaron Carroll has an important message below on how parents and even doctors are endangering young people (and their adults selves) by not immunizing them for HPV. Contrary to crank Internet rumors and a couple of scientifically illiterate presidential candidates, extensive evidence shows the HPV vaccine to be quite safe and effective and life-saving.

But many parents apparently don’t know to ask for the vaccine, and worse, doctors don’t push for it as much as they should. And that’s dumb, because a lot more adolescents are harmed by HPV than by, say, terrorists or school shootings. (That last point is from me, not Dr Carroll, but I’m pretty sure the numbers back me up on it. Lots of people, male and female, get cancer as a result of an HPV infection, and mass killings, horrendous as they are, affect relatively few people.)


As he mentions in the video, Carroll has made similar points several times in the past. More than two years ago he devoted one of the first episodes of Healthcare Triage to the subject of insufficient use of the vaccine.

Months ago he devoted a briefer segment to a study (more recent than the one mentioned in previous video) clearly demonstrating that getting vaccinated doesn’t make girls more sexually reckless as some parents mistakenly fear. It seems astonishing that parents would put their children’s lives at greater risk just to try to scare them into not having sex, but to put it mildly, people don’t always think things through. In any event, if parents think they can scare their kids into chastity, there are plenty of other STIs to worry about.

Incidentally, the same video mentions the false belief some people have that they can contract influenza from a flu vaccine. Some researchers did an experiment to see if they could educate people on this, and the results were bizarre: A significant number of patients did lose their false fear of flu vaccines. But then they perversely became less inclined to get vaccinated! People are just nuts.

Another Healthcare Triage video that briefly mentions HPV vaccine notes that its use improved from 2013 to 2014, and a map included shows that the vaccination rate in my state, North Carolina, is among the highest in the country for girls and among the better states for boys.

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