Did you know that cancer prevention can be as simple as making sure your preteen receives the HPV vaccination series? HPV vaccination is the best way to prevent cervical cancer and many other types of cancer.
HPV is short for human papillomavirus. There are 14 million new infections of HPV every year. HPV can turn into cancer. Every 20 minutes someone is diagnosed with cancer caused by the HPV virus. That’s the equivalent of about 27,000 new cancer cases in the United States each year. In both women and men, HPV can cause anal cancer and mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer. It can also cause cancers of the cervix, vulva, and vagina in women and cancer of the penis in men. Most of the HPV infections that cause these cancers could be prevented with vaccination.
The HPV vaccine is a routine vaccination given with Meningococcal and Tdap. These vaccines are recommended for preteen girls and boys at age 11 or 12. Vaccinating at this age is important so preteens are protected from HPV long before they begin any type of sexual activity or before they are ever exposed to the virus. In 2016, the CDC recommendations changed to two doses of HPV vaccine given 6 to 12 months apart if the vaccination is started before 15 years of age and there are no underlying health conditions. If the series is initiated after 15 years of age, there are three doses (the second shots are 1-2 months and 6 months after the initial dose). It is important to note that the vaccination can be given through age 26, but sooner is better. If you are behind in vaccinations, you do not have to start the series over.
The HPV vaccines are safe, effective, and offer long-lasting protection against cancers caused by HPV. Nearly 90 million doses have been distributed in the U.S. since the vaccine was introduced, and no serious safety concerns have been linked to HPV vaccination. Possible side effects after HPV vaccination are generally brief and mild. They include pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given.
Please contact your medical provider or the CDC website for further information at www.cdc.gov/STD/HPV. The Eau Claire City-County Health Department and the Eau Claire Area School District will offer the HPV vaccine and other immunizations at no cost to children up to 19 years of age at several locations throughout the fall. For more information, visit our website at echealthdepartment.org. The health department also offers HPV vaccines to adults. Eligibility criteria and/or costs may apply. Please call (715) 839-4718 for more information.