Last week, CBS Evening News featured a balanced story on the HPV vaccine and proposals to make the vaccine mandatory for girls entering the 6th grade. Several states are considering similar legislation, but the segment focused on the District of Columbia, which has the highest cervical cancer rate in the U.S. The video does a good job of addressing the facts about HPV and cervical cancer, as well as showing parents' perspectives both for and against the vaccine bill—without falling prey to myths about the vaccine encouraging promiscuity.
A couple of parents interviewed by CBS worried that 6th grade is too early to address sexually transmitted infections with their daughters or that the vaccine will encourage promiscuity (similar to the misinformation about sex ed or contraception promoting sex). Another parent acknowledged that it's tricky because this would be the first mandatory vaccine against a disease spread by sexual activity and not coughing or runny noses—but she pointed out that their kids learn about sex in school in the 5th grade, so it's not too early to protect them against HPV.
D.C. Councilmember David Catania, who sponsored the vaccine bill, has picked up on an example previously used to refute opposition to the HPV vaccine: "This vaccine no more encourages sexual activity than a tetanus shot encourages you to step on a rusty nail."
Visit the CBS website to watch the video or read the transcript.
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