Parents' fears to blame for Wisconsin kids not getting HPV vaccine

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BELLEVUE, Wis. (WBAY) - Public health officials say parents' fears over talking about sex with their kids are the reason Wisconsin’s Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rate is "alarmingly low"

Although close to half of American adults are infected with HPV right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the latest numbers for Wisconsin are "alarmingly low" with only three in ten girls and one in ten boys vaccinated with the cancer-preventing shot.

"The cancers that are associated with the Human papillomavirus (HPV) can be very deadly cancers, or very difficult to live with,” said Bellin family physician Rachael Vanden Langenberg, DO. “And the earlier we can get people vaccinated, the more it's going to protect them. If we can get someone fully vaccinated before they become sexually active, that's when that vaccine is going to afford them the most protection."

The latest numbers from the CDC show Manitowoc saw a big bump in the number of other vaccinations in the last four years—a six percent increase.

But the same can't be said for HPV vaccinations, with Door, Kewaunee, Marinette and Florence counties showing some of the worst numbers in the state.

"I see how many people decline the vaccine. It makes me sad that our numbers are that low. But I'm not surprised to hear that,” said Vanden Langenberg.

She says the parents' hangups are fake news websites that claim people have died from the HPV vaccine— a myth which has been debunked in many reports including Forbes and the famous Snopes.com.

Another problem is parents refusal to acknowledge that someday their now 11 or 12-year-old child will be having sex.

"Parents don't want to think about their kids being sexually active. But it's a reality. It's gonna happen at some point,” Vanden Langenberg told Action 2 News.