AAP reaffirms HPV vaccine for girls

September 15, 2011

The American Academy of Pediatrics has corrected false campaign statements made this week by Republican presidential candidates that the vaccine for human papillomavirus, administered to girls and young women to protect against cervical cancer, is dangerous and can cause mental retardation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has corrected false campaign statements made this week by Republican presidential candidates that the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), administered to girls and young women to protect against cervical cancer, is dangerous and can cause mental retardation.

In a statement issued by AAP president O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, the organization strongly asserts that there is no scientific validity to the candidates’ claims.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. That’s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because it’s important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity,” says Burton. “This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.”

The AAP statement echoes a recent report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that examined evidence of potential adverse effects for 6 vaccines, including for HPV.

The IOM panel concluded that often “the evidence was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship” between a particular vaccine and a specific rare adverse event.

About 6 million people in the United States become infected with HPV annually, including adolescents, and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer.

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