HPV cancers attack 40,000 every year, so why are Houston vaccination rates dropping?

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HOUSTON — Do you realize there are certain cancers attacking 40,000 Americans every year that are almost completely preventable?

HPV, the human papilloma virus, causes 99 percent of all cervix cancer, along with head and neck cancers, anal cancers, penile cancer and genital warts. And with three shots, you can cut your chances of getting them between 80 and 100 percent.

Funny thing is, not all parents are on board. The shots are most effective when given before a person is sexually active, but some moms and pops are scared these shots will encourage their kids to have sex. Shots, seriously?!

Dr. Lois Ramondetta, professor of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, calls cervical cancer the "WTF cancer."

"There's no reason to see anybody die of cervix cancer any more," she said. "We should be able to prevent it through good screening and through prevention with the vaccine."

Here in Texas, HPV vaccinations have been on the rise from 18 to 24 percent in boys and 34 to 41 percent in girls.

Strangely, here in Houston, HPV vaccination rates have actually dropped recently.

"There is something going on that's dropping the rate slightly in Houston. And that could be a number of things," said Anna Dragsbaek of the Immunization Partnership. "It could be people concerned about vaccine safety," she said.

Dragsbaek added all medical science confirms vaccines are safe.

"It could be doctors not bundling the recommendation (of getting the HPV shot with other school shots) or making parents believe that this is an optional vaccine when really it's a very important vaccine to prevent cancer in your child later in their life," Dragsbaek said.