Put cancer prevention on school checklist

HPV vaccine can prevent certain cancers and other diseases caused by human papillomavirus.

Get your girls and boys vaccinated at 11 or 12, or as soon as possible if they’re already 13 or older. HPV vaccines are safe and effective. All vaccines used in the U.S. are required to go through extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Once in use, they are continually monitored for safety and effectiveness. Numerous research studies have been conducted to ensure HPV vaccines were safe both before and after the vaccines were licensed. No serious safety concerns have been confirmed in the large studies that have been done since HPV vaccine became available in 2006.

The HPV vaccine works extremely well. In the four years after the vaccine was recommended in 2006, the number of HPV infections in teen girls decreased by 56 percent. In other countries such as Australia, research shows HPV vaccine has already decreased the number of pre-cancer of the cervix in women and genital warts have decreased dramatically in both young women and men. The protection provided by HPV vaccine is long-lasting. Currently, it is known that HPV vaccine works in the body for at least 10 years without becoming less effective. Data suggest the protection provided by the vaccine will continue beyond 10 years.

HPV vaccines don’t negatively affect fertility. There is no evidence to suggest that HPV vaccine causes fertility problems. However, not getting HPV vaccine leaves people vulnerable to HPV cancers. If persistent HPV infection in a woman leads to cervical cancer, the treatment of cervical cancer — hysterectomy, chemotherapy or radiation, for example — could leave a woman unable to have children. Treatment for cervical pre-cancer could put a woman at risk for problems with her cervix, which could cause pre-term delivery or other problems.

Boys and girls should get all three doses of HPV vaccine when they are 11 or 12 years old. If a teen or young adult — through age 26 — has not started or finished the series of three HPV vaccine shots, it’s not too late. If it has been a long time since your child got the first or second dose of HPV vaccine, you don’t have to start over — just get the remaining shots as soon as possible.

Take advantage of any visit to your health care provider — checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or school — to ask your provider about what shots your children need. Or make an appointment today to get your child vaccinated.

To learn more about HPV and HPV vaccination, visit http://www. cdc.gov/vaccines/ or call 800-CDC-INFO.

Amy Clark is an RN, current DNP student at UW-Oshkosh and member of the HPV Prevention Campaign work group.