FREMONT, Neb. It's a decision every parent of a middle school student must make: whether to allow their child to get the HPV vaccine. In this month's Health Check - Serese Cole tell us why some say the immunization is controversial and why doctors say - it's necessary.
Weights and reps.
That's one way Avery Gossett is getting ready for middle school.
It's part of a summer conditioning program for incoming student athletes.
She's also getting ready with a required seventh grade physical.
The exam is pretty routine, except for one thing.
The HPV vaccine.
"HPV is Human Pappiloma Virus. It's a virus that approximately 4 out of 5 Americans get sometime during their lifetime," said Fremont Health Family Physician, Dr. Todd Eberle.
The vaccine is optional.
Some say it's controversial.
It's often misunderstood.
"The hardest part with parents is definitely bringing up that it's a sexually transmitted infection. We're talking to parents of nine, 10, and 12 year-olds," Eberle said.
"Right now, only 50 percent of pre-teen girls get the HPV vaccine, when it comes to boys - it's less just 30 percent." said Serese Cole.
Dr. Todd Eberle says it's worth considering - given how many people get the virus. Currently, 80 million American have the virus.
"Eighty-percent of Americans will get it," Dr. Eberle said.
"It's much easier to protect people before than after the fact. Protect them now while you've got a good chance. When they're off in college, they're out of your house and you can't protect them anymore," Dr. Eberle said.
HPV is also responsible for several different cancers - more than 30-thousand new cases a year. The most serious is cervical cancer.
The shot reduces the chance of getting it.
"The vaccine is actually a very effective vaccine," said Dr. Eberle.
"The American Cancer Society has actually made a goal to eliminate HPV associated cancers - those 30,000 cancers a year by 2026 by getting more people vaccinated," he added.
For Avery's mom - it was an easy decision.
Jill Gossett, "As a parent, I think you're always trying to protect your kids from anything and cancer is definitely one of those things that you hope your child never has to go through."
The shot - much like summer conditioning - just another way to stay strong and healthy.
Doctors recommend getting the HPV vaccine at ages 11 and 12.
Girls can get the shot as early as nine and as late for 26.Boys can get the shot until they are 21-years-old.