The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported yet another study showing there's absolutely no link between vaccines and autism, and that overall adverse effects are rare. When you get an inoculation, you're 4,000 times more likely to prevent a serious disease than to have an adverse reaction to a vaccine.
But the suspicion that vaccinations are linked to developmental problems in children is widespread, and it has had a particularly chilling effect on support for the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, which protects against cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and tongue/tonsil/throat cancers: 44 percent of parents say they don't intend to have their girls receive the vaccine. African American and Hispanic women (who have higher rates of cervical cancer) are the least likely to be vaccinated themselves or to have their daughters vaccinated. That's a shame; in 2009, more than 30,000 people were diagnosed with a cancer linked to HPV; 12,000 were women with cervical cancer.
So, just like Strother Martin (the Captain) said to Paul Newman (Luke) in the 1967 classic "Cool Hand Luke," "What we've got here is failure to communicate." Well, let's communicate this: Vaccines today are more efficient, effective and far less risky than they were in the 1950s, when the polio vaccine started saving lives. The HPV vaccine is another breakthrough: It's a vaccine that prevents infection from a cancer-causing virus, and it's available through many programs at no charge. It's recommended for girls and boys ages 9 to 26. So spread the word - friends don't let friends go unvaccinated.