HPV vaccine key to preventing cancer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that HPV vaccination rates in girls ages 13-17 years failed to increase, and actually declined slightly between 2011 and 2012.

With this new data, the Michigan Department of Community Health is working to educate residents about the importance of getting the HPV vaccine to protect against cancer.

Approximately 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and about 14 million people become newly infected each year.

HPV is also so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.

In Michigan, 47.2 percent of females 13-17 years of age have received one or more doses of HPV vaccine, and only 27.5 percent of females 13-17 years of age have received all three doses of the vaccine, according to data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry.

According to the CDC, for each year the 3-dose HPV vaccine series coverage remains near the current level of 33 percent, an estimated additional 4,400 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,400 cervical cancer-attributable deaths will occur each year.

Among girls unvaccinated for HPV, 84 percent had a health care visit where they received another vaccine, such as meningitis or pertussis, but not HPV vaccine.

“It is concerning to see the rates of vaccination against HPV at these low levels compared with other vaccines, particularly because vaccinating teens and young adults now with this critical vaccine prevents them from getting different types of HPV-related cancer in the future,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

“As parents and medical professionals, our responsibility is to protect the health of our youth, including taking preventive measures,” Dr. Davis said in a statement. “The HPV vaccine truly is an important tool for allowing us to do so.”

Not receiving a health care provider’s recommendation for HPV vaccine was one of the five main reasons parents reported for not vaccinating their sons or daughters.

The other responses parents provided indicate gaps in understanding the vaccine, including why vaccination is recommended at ages 11 or 12.

Parents also reported safety concerns as a reason for not vaccinating. In the seven years of post-licensure vaccine safety monitoring and evaluation conducted independently by federal agencies and vaccine manufacturers, no serious safety concerns have been identified.

Most private health insurance plans must cover the HPV vaccine at no out-of-pocket cost, meaning no co-pay or deductible.

HPV is covered under the Vaccines for Children Program which provides no- or low-cost vaccines to eligible children, 18 years of age and younger.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to ask about vaccination every time they take children for a health care visit.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has launched a campaign to educate residents about the importance of the HPV vaccine in protecting against cervical cancer.

Below, officials list some common questions and answers about the HPV Vaccine:

When should my child get the HPV Vaccine?

Routine vaccination with three doses of HPV vaccine is recommended for all 11- and 12-year-old boys and girls. The vaccines can be given as early as 9 years of age. Catch-up ages for girls are from 13-26 years and 13-21 years for boys. If your son or daughter did not receive the vaccine at the recommended ages, they may still be eligible for doses through age 26.

For the HPV vaccine to work best, it is very important for everyone to get all three doses. The vaccine produces better immunity to fight infection when given at the younger ages compared to the older ages.

Why vaccinate against HPV at 11-12 years of age?

– The vaccine produces better immunity to fight infection when given at younger ages, compared with older ages

– Like all vaccines, the HPV vaccine is much more effective at preventing cancer if all three doses are administered before contact with the target viruses

– Most men and women will contract at least one type of HPV in their lifetime

– Both vaccines against HPV have been tested in thousands of people around the world and are proven to have no serious side effects

– Both vaccines are highly effective against the two HPV types most likely to cause cancers

What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Human Papillomavirus or HPV is a common family of viruses that causes infection on the skin or mucous membranes of various areas of the body. There are many different types of HPV. Several types of HPV infection affect different areas of the body.

How common is HPV?

HPV is incredibly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79 million Americans are infected with it currently. 14 million Americans become newly infected every year. There are no symptoms, so most people don’t realize they have it. Most men and women will contract HPV in their lifetime.

Can HPV infection be treated?

There is no treatment or cure for HPV infection. There are only treatments available for the health problems HPV can cause. In most cases, the body fights off the virus naturally. In the cases where the virus cannot be fought off naturally, the body is at risk for serious complications such as cancer.