PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s an issue that has been on the table for some time now. Should the HPV vaccine become mandatory for seventh graders in Allegheny County?
“It’s nothing communicable. It’s sexually transmitted and should be the parent’s decision,” parent Jennifer Manns said.
“With a lot of new vaccines, kids are getting sick,” parent Christian Yates said.
However, a panel of doctors at UPMC say the vaccine should become mandatory. On Wednesday, the Allegheny County Board of Health will vote to determine whether or not it should be required for both boys and girls around the age of 11 or 12.
“This vaccine is safe and effective. The problem is people aren’t using it,” Chairman of the Department of Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Dr. Jonas Johnson said.
The HPV vaccine became available in 2006. It’s a major preventive of cervical cancer. Throat cancer is another one, and men can get it from the HPV virus.
“This cancer takes about 30 years to form. By vaccinating kids today, we will see the difference by 2040. I’ll be gone, but our children will be here,” Dr. Johnson said.
Pat Maloney, 68, is one of those men, diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils last March.
“If there was a vaccine, then, yes, I would have had it,” Maloney said.
He had to go through both radiation and chemotherapy and says the side effects of treatment have changed his life forever.
“I still suffer from dry mouth. Water is a constant companion. It’s not as bad as it was; it has gotten better,” he says. “Loss of taste is there.”
“Parents are going to be put in this situation, explain to their kids why they didn’t get the vaccine when it was first available,” Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UPMC Dr. Robert Edwards said.
If the Allegheny County Board of Health votes no during Wednesday’s meeting, the issue will be off the table. If they vote yes, they’ll likely have to go through a public comment session before the vaccination would become mandatory in another year.