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FEBRUARY 20, 2014 • CAMBELL COUNTY RECORDER • A9

Editor: Marc Emral, memral@communitypress.com, 578-1053

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HPV vaccine offers cancer protection

RADICAL ROBOTICS

Campbell County High School’s engineering class students, Noah Vaniglia and Andrew Kiddy, recently received third place in the programming division at the Vex Robotics Tournament. This ranked their team tied for 99th out of 10,000 teams in the world. It also qualifies them for state competition.THANKS TO RON ROSEL

When you talk about medical breakthroughs, a cure for cancer rises to the top. While a cure for cancer is yet to be discovered, we have a tool to prevent certain types of cancer – the HPV vaccine. Yet, vaccination rates for pre-teens, who are recommended to get the three-dose series, are surprisingly low. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 33 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys had been fully vaccinated in 2012 (the rate for boys is lower because the vaccine was more recently recommended for them). HPV is short for human papillomavirus. About 79 million people in the United States, most in their teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. Not only does HPV cause almost all cervical cancers in women, it is also responsible for other types of cancer. HPV causes cancer in a variety of places in both men and women, including the mouth/throat, anus and genitals. In the United States each year, there are about 18,000 women and 7,000 men affected by HPV-related cancers. Kentucky has the eighth highest rate of cervical cancer in the country. So how do we improve our vaccination rates so we can change this trend? Timing is important: HPV vaccination is recommended at age 11 or 12. Because the HPV virus can be spread through sexual activity, the vaccine offers the greatest health benefits to individuals who receive all three doses before having any type of sexual activity. Eleven and 12 year olds are already required to get other immunizations: a Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; and a meningitis vaccine. The first dose of HPV can safely and easily be given during the same visit as the other two shots (and odds are the amount of protest or eye-rolling from your pre-teen won’t rise too drastically from shot No. 2 to No. 3).

We’re missing opportunities for HPV vaccination, though. Nationally, 74 percent of pre-teens got a Tdap vacLynne M. cination and 84 Saddler percent got one COMMUNITY for meningitis. RECORDER GUEST Let’s not think COLUMNIST of HPV vaccination as optional – the benefits are far too great for families to delay or decline this vaccination. Cost was once a concern, but it is no longer. The vaccine is covered by Medicaid and many health insurance plans. For the uninsured the vaccine can be expensive, but through a special grant, the health department is offering the vaccine to those ages 19 to 26 years for just $4 per dose at our county health centers and those 18 and under can receive the vaccine through the Vaccines for Children program. Many parents hesitate to give their son or daughter the HPV vaccine because they worry it might encourage sexual activity. A study in Pediatrics released this month found that getting the HPV vaccination does not lead to riskier sexual activity among young women. Previous studies have also shown that the HPV vaccine is not linked to increased promiscuity at an earlier age. As it is with so many other conditions, vaccination is the best prevention tool available. Consider this: If 80 percent of pre-teens were vaccinated against HPV, we’d prevent 4,400 future cases of cervical cancer and 1,400 cancer deaths. Simply put, the HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. Help protect your son or daughter by making sure that he/she gets all three doses of HPV vaccine, starting at age 11 or 12.

Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, is the district director of health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

Evolving the debate toward humanness

The spirit of John Scopes recently descended upon our beloved Bluegrass in the form of debate between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham and Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Nothing like a good debate to rouse the troops comfortably entrenched in their intellectual foxholes (two-thirds of Americans identify more or less as evolutionists and one-third as creationists according to a recent Pew survey). Verbal barbs between camps have been traded since the famous “Monkey Trial” sparked by Scopes – a native Kentuckian by the way. Nye’s participation interestingly drew the ire of evolutionary scientists who likened it to intellectual condescension on

par with debating Cro-Magnon. Nye contends that adherence to evolution is integral if not foundational to Richard good science. Nelson Never mind that the BibliCOMMUNITY RECORDER GUEST cal worldview COLUMNIST held by Pasteur, Pascal, Copernicus and Newton didn’t impede their scientific pursuits. Nor did it inhibit modern scientist Raymond Damadian from discovering magnetic resonance imaging as Ham pointed out. There is no doubt in Nye’s

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mind that the universe is really old and began with a Big Bang, yet he couldn’t answer where the consciousness that allows him to think that thought comes from in the first place. To exalt science as the arbiter of all truth and reality is to coronate scientific man as more powerful than he really is. Scientists are people. People are finite. By definition, a finite creature is limited in his knowing. Even his observations are limited by the constraints of the human condition and subject to change with the gathering of new information. This is not an excuse to be ignorant. It is instead a challenge to temper humanity with a good dose of humility – the kind on par needed

by the afflicted Job when indignant with God over his suffering. God responded, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:4-5a) Evolution has yet to explain where matter and energy come from and how living things spring from non-living matter. It has not answered where intelligence or morality come from. And it is completely silent in explaining how “survival of the fittest” comports with compassion and care for the sick and dying – of total strangers. These conundrums are evolving the

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debate and raise questions of who and what makes us human anyway. Science has helped us greatly understand our physical world. Coupled with technology, it has helped to make life better and more livable. It has fought disease and hunger and eliminated many toilsome burdens. It can measure the chemical makeup of our bodies but it cannot tell us what comprises the soul. Science is good but it is not God. Richard Nelson is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy group. He lives in Trigg County with his wife and children.

Campbell County Editor Marc Emral memral@communitypress.com, 578-1053 Office hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday See page A2 for additional contact information.

Campbell county recorder 022014  
Campbell county recorder 022014