Health officials raise awareness about HPV Vaccines
Health experts say vaccination rates in Wisconsin are lagging behind other states, including for the cancer-causing Human Papillomavirus or HPV.
Summer is coming to an end. As many parents are thinking about required vaccinations for children this back to school season, health officials are reminding them not to forget about HPV.
Dr. Suzette Peltier, Gynecologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire says she's a big proponent of vaccinations. The initial vaccination against HPV was released in 2006. "It was a brand new vaccination , had great literature to support its use so i think we had that splurge of media exposure after that and then it kind of died down,” said Dr. Peltier.
She says now, there are better series of the vaccine available, working against up to nine HPV types. Despite its protection against certain cancers, health officials say in Wisconsin only about 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys have gotten the full HPV vaccine. In some areas, that rate is even lower..
Peltier says this is partially due to the vaccine not being mandated as other are. She says just because HPV vaccines aren’t required doesn’t mean they aren’t important. "Who wouldn't want to prevent cancer? Prevent cervical cancer, vulvar cancer vaginal cancer, penial cancer, and anal cancer…the ones that care caused by the HPV Virus," she said.
Peltier says the HPV vaccine is a powerful, preventative tool and recommends parents have their kids vaccinated sooner than later. "The earlier the better to prevent disease so that ideally you haven’t been exposed to any of these viruses yet so that would work its best," said Peltier.
She says she would like to see a higher percentage of her patients get vaccinated. The vaccine is available to males and females between the ages of 9 and 26.