By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
As the end of summer draws near, most parents and children are equipped with a full list of necessary items for the upcoming school year. It’s usually around this time that a majority of parents take the opportunity to take their children to the pediatrician for a physical or a general check-up. This year, the American Cancer Society is encouraging parents to get the HPV vaccination.
Recently, the American Cancer Society launched a nationwide public health campaign, Mission: HPV Cancer Free. The aim is to increase HPV vaccination rates, which eliminates preventable cancers such as cervical cancer, anal cancer, throat cancer, penile cancer and vaginal/vulvar cancers.
“We have a vaccine that can help prevent six types of cancer – HPV vaccination is cancer prevention,” said Beth Brunner, health systems manager for the American Cancer Society and immediate past chair of the Wisconsin Cancer Council’s Steering Committee.
According to the press release, by June 2026, the campaign hopes to have 80 percent of 13-year-old girls and boys vaccinated. By then, it will be 20 years since the Food & Drug Administration has approved the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 52 percent of Wisconsin boys and girls ages 13-17 have completed the HPV vaccine series. In comparison, 90 percent of teens have received the Tdap vaccine and 80 percent have received the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
“While 69% of 13-17-year-old boys and girls in Wisconsin have received at least 1 dose of the HPV vaccine, many are not completing the vaccine series and are missing the protection against cancer that it could provide,” Brunner said.
The CDC found that 14 million Americans get HPV every year from sexual contact. While the symptoms go away on their own, in some cases a more serious problem may occur. The American Cancer Society said that more than 33,000 men and women are diagnosed with cancer as a result of a HPV infection.
In the United States, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer every year and about 4,000 die from it, the CDC reported.
According to the CDC, the HPV vaccine should be administered in a two-dose series for children who start the vaccine at between the ages of 9 and 14. Teenagers who start the vaccination at 15 years of age and older, should get the vaccine in a three-dose series.
After receiving the vaccination, young adults may experience a series of mild side effects such as soreness or redness in the arm, a mild fever and a possible headache.
For more information on HPV related cancers visit cancer.org/HPV and for more information on the HPV vaccine, Wisconsin residents can call 608-267-9959.