Let’s talk about Cancer

By Adrienne Harmel, CPNP

Are you still waiting to get your preteen or teen vaccinated with the HPV vaccine?

Maybe you think it’s not necessary.
This is a vaccine that prevents cancer, not just cervical cancer in women, but genital cancer in men, as well as increasing numbers of mouth and throat cancers. We now know that HPV causes more oral and throat cancer than tobacco!! HPV has become so common that by the age of 50, 80% of women will have it. Not all of those women will go on to get cancer, but we have the opportunity to drastically reduce the risk of HPV related cancers with a very safe and effective vaccine.

Maybe you feel it is “too new.”
Gardasil was released in 2006 after many years of rigorous vaccine trials. This is the most widely tested vaccine out of all the vaccines that we give in pediatrics! We have been giving it for 10 years, and there have been no significant adverse events linked with this vaccine. It can cause dizziness and a sore arm, two very manageable side effects for a cancer prevention vaccine.

Maybe you feel your child is too young.
Data shows that the ideal time to give the HPV vaccine is between the ages of 11 and 13. The immune response is better in this age range, so the vaccine simply works better when it is given at a younger age. And it is paramount to get the full 3 dose vaccine completed, which takes 6 months, well before there is any exposure to the virus. It makes the most sense to give the HPV vaccine along with the other adolescent vaccines that we administer at age 11 or 12, the Tdap and meningitis vaccines.

If you have questions about HPV or the vaccine, please don’t hesitate to come in and speak with one of our providers about it. But we urge you not to delay this vaccine. We are so fortunate to live in an age when science gives us the opportunity to prevent cancer with a safe and effective vaccine. Our children deserve this protection.

  -Adrienne Harmel, CPNP