Flagler schools consider HPV vaccine in schools

The Flagler County Health Department wants the school system to allow parents the option to vaccinate their kids for human papillomavirus (HPV) along with other routine vaccines offered at schools. 

However, some School Board members met the idea with resistance. District 5 representative Maria Barbosa questioned whether the vaccination would "open the gates" for children to have sex earlier in life.

Health department officials said there are studies that prove getting the vaccine does not impact sexual behavior. Flagler Health Department Nursing director Bonnie Welter said the time to protect against HPV would be before a patient ever becomes sexually active.

"Their immune system is the most robust, they're able to manage it, and their body will protect themselves better, but also you want to protect them before they become sexually active," she said.

According to Welter, the HPV vaccine is an effective way to prevent cervical, throat, and penile cancers, adding that millions of people have been given the vaccine with little side effects.

"Since they started giving the HPV vaccine 10 years ago, the incidents of HPV related cancers for teens and young women has decreased by 71 percent. That's says a lot," she said.