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Moms First: Controversy continues over HPV vaccine

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The controversy continues over vaccinating young girls for the Human papillomavirus, otherwise known as HPV.

Cervical cancer strikes about 12,000 women a year and kills around 4,000. Experts believe the HPV vaccine is the answer to preventing cervical cancer, but controversy surrounds states like Rhode Island and Virginia that recently mandated the vaccine as a school requirement.

The U.S. government recommends that all boys and girls get an HPV vaccine to reduce their risks for developing certain cancers.

"It prevents the transmission of this virus and the virus cannot be treated but the things it causes can be treated. It causes vaginal cancer. Cervical cancer is the number one thing that we worry about," said Dr. Brian Carter with Granger Family Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that out of the 25 million doses given, so far about 6 percent of the people had serious side effects including 32 deaths.

"This is a very safe vaccine the only major side effect is really the local effects around the sight, low grade fever, pain around swelling sight," said Dr. Carter.

The vaccine requires three shots over six months and costs upwards of $400, which is not always covered by insurers or government agencies.

The vaccine is not mandatory in Indiana, but recent guidelines have been sent to Indiana families recommending the vaccine.

"The big controversy is because of the stigma because it's a sexually transmitted virus. So we attach this of I don't want to give this to my kids because that means they are going to be sexually active," said Dr. Carter.

The vaccine is recommended for persons between the ages of 9 and 26.

"With any vaccine you still need to know the risks and the benefits and you need to weight that and make your own decision as a parent," said Dr. Carter.

The vaccine has stirred recent controversy in some circles because of perceptions it encourages sexual activity, but Dr. Carter recommends if parents feel uncomfortable they should talk to their physician to voice their questions and concerns about the vaccine.

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