Psst! HPV Vaccines Are Good Things. Pass It On!

The writers over at the Incidental Economist are on the other side of the policy divide on a host of matters vis-à-vis yours truly, but there are issues we agree on. One is that it is really important to vaccinate kids--and yes, that includes boys as well as girls--against the human papillomavirus (HPV). Aaron Carroll has performed a mitzvah by highlighting a study which points out the following:

This study looked at the prevalence of HPV among women and girls in the three years before the HPV vaccine was introduced (2003-2006) and the three years after it was introduced (2007-2010). The results are shocking. Just looking at adolescent girls age 14-19 years old, the prevalence of HPV covered by the vaccine fell from 11.5% before 2006 to 5.1% after. That’s a drop of more than 50%. And before any skeptics weigh in, there was no difference in the racial/ethnicity of the samples before and after the vaccine, nor any differences in sexual activity.

Of course, I cannot help but recall that Texas governor Rick Perry got a lot of grief for having ordered young girls in school to get the vaccine unless their parents opted out. As it turns out, Perry did the right thing from a health policy perspective. Perhaps one might argue that government has no business mandating vaccines, but few people doubt that government does have a role to play in promoting health and safety, and if the Perry order applied to public schools that receive taxpayer money, it's hard to see how Perry overreached, even though the state legislature overruled his order.

In any event, it is nice to see that we have an effective way to counteract the spread of HPV. We should take advantage of that knowledge and push for kids to get vaccinated. It saves lives.