Feb. 22, 2017
cancer just got a little easier. Adolescents under age 15 now need only two shots
to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV), rather than three doses of vaccine as physicians
previously recommended. HPV causes several cancers that sicken and kill both men
and women, and the shots prevent HPV.
2017 vaccination schedules, released earlier this
month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reflect the change
in HPV vaccination recommendation. When the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006,
it was given in three doses over six months. CDC announced the new
recommendation because studies showed two doses were just as effective for kids
aged 9-14 years, the group that benefits most from the shots.
key to preventing HPV is getting vaccinated before being exposed to it,” said
David Lakey, MD, chair of Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Council on
Science and Public Health. “The new CDC recommendations reinforce the benefit
of getting the vaccine in the early adolescent years.”
During National Cancer Prevention Month in February, Texas
physicians want to ensure parents help their adolescents and teens avoid cancer
down the road by getting them vaccinated to prevent HPV.
Physicians and other health experts recommend the HPV vaccination
for preteen boys and girls, aged 11 and 12 years, but it can be given as early
as age 9. The second dose
of HPV vaccine should be given six to 12 months after the first dose.
are seeing more cancers caused by HPV, with a new case diagnosed in someone
every 20 minutes. CDC says that equates to 30,000 Americans getting an
HPV-related cancer each year, including cervical, penile, anal, vaginal, and
oropharyngeal (cancers of the head and neck such as the throat and mouth).
is the most common infection in the nation spread through intimate skin-to-skin
or sexual contact. Almost
all (80 percent) of sexually active people will have the virus sometime in
their lives. Most HPV infections will go away, but some will not. These cases cause
genital warts and cancer years or even decades later.
cancers often aren’t diagnosed until they are advanced, making treatment more
difficult, lengthy, and expensive,” said Dr. Lakey, a pediatric infectious
disease specialist in Austin. “The vaccine is safe, effective, and simple to
administer. It provides an opportunity for us to do something now that will
protect and preserve the health of our children throughout their lives. That’s
an opportunity we should seize,” said Dr. Lakey.
teens and young adults who weren’t vaccinated in adolescence, or who didn’t get
all the shots in the series, can still benefit from HPV vaccination. Both males
and females can get the shots until age 26. For those over age 15, however, CDC
still recommends the three-shot series. People should ask their physician about
how many doses are needed and when.
Paying for the
vaccine shouldn’t be a barrier. Most insurance companies, the Texas Vaccines for Children Program, and the Adult Safety Net program pay
for HPV vaccine. The Texas Department of State Health Services created the Adult
Safety Net to make
vaccinations available to uninsured adults.
has published an infographic about the importance of HPV
vaccination, both in English and Spanish.
TMA is the largest state
medical society in the nation, representing more than 50,000 physician and
medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county
medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve
the health of all Texans.
TMA actively works to improve
immunization rates in Texas through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM
program. Be Wise works with local communities to give free and low-cost shots
to Texans, and educate people about the importance of vaccination. More than 315,000
shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults through the Be
Wise program since 2004. Be Wise — Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians, medical students, and the TMA Alliance. It is funded by TMA Foundation thanks to major gifts from H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute, along with generous contributions from physicians and their families.
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Be Wise —
Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.
Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512)
656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512)
650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org
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