Cervical Health Awareness Month: HPV Vaccines

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus which can cause other cancers in women, men, and teens. It’s estimated that nearly 1 in 4 Americans are infected.

Cutout Photo: Jan Christian / CC BY-SA 2.0

Every year in the United States, HPV causes more than 30,000 cancers in men and women. Dr. Sandeep Basu says that about 74 percent of new HPV infection occurs in young people ages 15-24.

But the HPV vaccination can prevent most of the cancers (about 28,000) from occurring.

Dr. Sandeep Basu, M.D of Mayo Clinic Health System says, "10% of people infected can later in life develop cervical cancer, head and neck cancer, other cancers. It’s one of those instances where it’s strong connection between an infections leading to a cancer.

It’s recommended to receive the vaccine during the time of the meningococcal and T-Dap vaccine, which is between the ages of 11 & 12 years old. But you can receive the vaccine up to 26 years of age.

The Chippewa Valley immunization coalition which formed a year ago in December says it’s given in two or three doses.

Patricia Reis, R.N., Public Health Nurse, Eau Claire City/County Health Department says, "The vaccine when its given under 15 years of age is given 6 months apart, that’s the recommended spacing on that. If it’s given over 15 years of age its given one month apart and then 6 months from the first dose."

The vaccine is typically covered by insurance, but if someone does not have insurance they can go to the Eau Claire County Health Department.

This is also true if someone is on Medicaid or under 19 or are American Indian/Alaska native. Dr. Basu says the HPV vaccine has been studied carefully and scientific research indicates there are no serious safety concerns.

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