Get HPV vaccine for children now to prevent cancer later
As parents, you do everything you can to protect your children’s health for now and for the future. Today, there is a strong weapon to prevent several types of cancer in our kids: the HPV vaccine.
HPV is short for human papillomavirus. About 20 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 also is responsible for other types of cancer. HPV causes mouth/throat cancer, as well as anal cancer in both women and men.
HPV can cause cancers of the vulva and vagina in women, and cancer of the penis in men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States each year, there are about 17,600 women and 9,300 men affected by HPV-related cancers.
Most of the HPV infections that cause these cancers could be prevented with vaccination.
HPV-related cancers can be devastating.
Jacquelyn, a cancer survivor and mother of two preschoolers, says that soon after her second child was born, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and needed a total hysterectomy.
“My husband and I had been together for 15 years, and we were planning to have more children—that isn’t going to happen now,” she said.
Although they caught Jacquelyn’s cervical cancer early, she still has medical appointments taking time away from her family, friends and work.
“Every time the doctor calls, I hold my breath until I get the results. Cancer is always in the back of my mind,” she said.
HPV vaccines offer the greatest health benefits to individuals who receive all three doses before having any type of sexual activity. That’s why
HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years.
The connection between vaccinating kids now to protect them from cancer later isn’t lost on Jacquelyn.
“I will protect my son and daughter by getting them the HPV vaccine as soon as they each turn 11. I tell everyone to get their children the HPV vaccine series to protect them from these kinds of cancers,” she said.
Health care providers in Sheboygan County are committed to preventing cancer in our children by promoting HPV vaccination. The Sheboygan County Immunization Coalition has partnered with Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, Prevea Health, and Matthews Oncology to spread the word about HPV disease and vaccination.
With money received through a grant from the CDC and the state immunization program, the Sheboygan County Immunization Coalition hopes to increase HPV vaccination rates in Sheboygan County.
In 2013, only 28 percent of females and 11 percent of males had received the full HPV vaccine series.
If your son or daughter hasn’t started or finished the HPV vaccine series yet— it’s not too late. Now is a good time to ask their doctor or nurse about vaccines for your preteens and teens.
Visit www.cdc.gov/hpv to learn more about HPV and HPV vaccines.
Amy Clark is a registered nurse who is currently a DNP student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Amy is also a member of the HPV Prevention Campaign work group.