According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 79 million Americans are infected with some form of human papillomavirus (HPV) and most of them don’t even know it.
HPV remains the leading cause of cervical cancer among women. In addition, HPV is linked to vulvar and vaginal cancers in women, penile cancers in men, and oral and anal cancers in both men and women. Each year in the United States, there are about 17,500 women and 9,300 men affected by HPV-related cancers. Of HPV-related cancers, 90 percent can be prevented with an HPV immunization.
What can you do to protect your child from HPV?
Clinical trials have shown that the HPV vaccination provides close to 100 percent protection against some strains of HPV virus. Your physician will recommend your child receive the vaccination in his or her pre-teen years, about 11 to 12 years old. When administered early, the vaccination produces a higher immune response. That does not mean that older children cannot receive the vaccination. They will just need an extra dose.
Timing of HPV Vaccine Intervals
Between the ages of nine to 14, two shots will be given over a period of 12 months. If your child begins the vaccination sequence after his or her 15th birthday, three shots will be administered. The primary window for girls to receive the vaccination is from nine to 27 years old and nine to 22 years old for boys.
Are there side effects associated with the HPV vaccine?
Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare and there have been no serious side effects associated with the HPV vaccine. Studies have shown the vaccine to be safe and have long-lasting effectiveness. Some limited side effects may include pain in the arm where the shot was given, dizziness, fever, or nausea.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor any associated side effects or possible side effects through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and other vaccine safety systems.
Over the course of a year, The Polyclinic Pediatrics department has doubled its HPV immunization rate among 11- to 12-year-olds; from 30 percent in October 2016 to 64 percent in May 2017. 94 percent of the clinic’s 13 to 17 year old patients have begun the vaccination sequence, the Pediatrics department is working towards making sure they finish the sequence. The department’s goal is to have 80 percent of their 13- to 17-year-old patients vaccinated. This effort has been led by Polyclinic pediatrician Dr. Sherri Zorn.
“We call HPV vaccine ‘the anti-cancer vaccine,’”Dr. Zorn says. “Patients and parents should consider the HPV immunization as a routine immunization that we expect them to receive at the 11- to 12-year-old visit along with their T-dap and Menactra vaccines."
The Polyclinic Madison Center Pediatrics Department was recognized as a leader in HPV vaccinations in King County Public Health’s Communicable Disease Epidemiology & Immunization Quarterly newsletter. This quarter’s newsletter covers winning strategies to increase HPV immunization coverage. On page 5, Dr. Zorn and The Polyclinic are featured for their successful efforts to rise immunization rates.
Getting the Vaccine
If you have any questions about HPV vaccination, talk with your child’s doctor. If you are uninsured or underinsured, your child can still receive the vaccination based on eligibility requirements. The Washington State Vaccines for Children (VFC) is a federally funded program that provides the vaccination at no cost at health centers around the state. There is a small fee of $23 to cover the cost to administer the vaccine. For those uninsured or covered by VFC. For children with insurance the cost of admin rises to about $53-$66. Most all insurances cover this cost. There is a small fee of $23 to cover the cost to administer the vaccine.