Nothing is more important to me than the health and well-being of my child, which is why access to accurate, medically based information is critical. In South Carolina, we have a vaccine to prevent cancer — a cancer that claims the lives of five women in our state each month. This vaccine is ready and waiting to be administered across the state, yet some legislators hesitate to pass a bill that would educate and inform parents about this life-saving measure.
As legislators head back to the State House, I urge them to act swiftly to pass the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act and put an end to these preventable deaths.
This legislation would not mandate the human papilloma virus vaccine, but rather it would require the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer the HPV vaccination to students enrolling in the seventh grade and provide parents and guardians with printed information on vaccination, so they can read and discuss it with their health-care providers.
Many doctors don't urge HPV shots for preteens, study says
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In 2010, South Carolina ranked 14th in the nation for diagnoses of cervical cancer and seventh for cervical cancer deaths. The vaccine not only protects against types of HPV that cause about 75 percent of cervical cancer cases, it also protects against types of HPV that cause vaginal, vulvar and male cancers. But numbers do not tell the full story.
I am a retired women’s health nurse practitioner who worked with college-aged women. I saw firsthand the emotional impact a diagnosis of HPV has on a young woman. Since the vaccine was introduced in 2006, we have seen a statistically significant drop in the more serious manifestations of this virus and a dramatic drop in non-cancerous HPV lesions. We could see even more dramatic results if we increased the number of children, both boys and girls, receiving this vaccine.
It is time to look beyond political affiliations and emotional biases around sexual activity and recognize that we need to know about the medical resources available to us — especially a safe, highly effective vaccine that will save lives and improve the health and well-being of our children. Don’t waste another year; please contact your senator and demand the passage of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act. Find out more at tellthemsc.org.