OPINION

GUEST COLUMN HPV vaccine vital part of prevention

Heather Meador
Heather Meador
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HPV-related cancers are on the rise in Iowa, as the latest Cancer in Iowa report from the University of Iowa highlighted. More women and men are developing HPV-related cancers, which include cervical, anal, and throat cancers. Most of the time HPV has no symptoms, so people do not know they have it.

The good news is that the HPV vaccine prevents many types of HPV-related cancers. The HPV vaccine saves lives.

The HPV vaccine protects women and men from getting the most common types of HPV. There are two different brands of the vaccine: Cervarix and Gardasil. Both kinds are safe and effective. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children between the ages of 11 and 12 be vaccinated with the three-dose series. The vaccine may be given to people ages 9-26.

To get the vaccine for you or your child, talk to your health care provider or call a clinic near you. Many health insurance plans cover the cost of the HPV vaccine, but check with your insurance plan to be sure. Children younger than 19 who are uninsured or Medicaid-eligible can get the vaccine through the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program.

An investigation from the Vaccine Safety Datalink of more than 600,000 people who got the HPV vaccine found no serious adverse events were more likely to occur in those who got the vaccine than those in comparison groups. The HPV vaccine works.

Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, stated, “The vaccine works. It works even better than we had hoped.” The HPV vaccine is safe, with more than 57 million doses given without identifying a problem. It’s effective at preventing cancer.

Two local coalitions, the Linn County Immunization Coalition (LCIC) and the Sexual Health Alliance of Linn & Johnson Counties (SHA), are working to increase the number of people who have completed the HPV vaccination series. LCIC seeks to protect the community through education and vaccination. LCIC will be offering HPV clinics throughout Linn County during 2014 and 2015. Additionally, LCIC will be producing educational material to help the community understand the safety and importance of the HPV vaccine.

For more information about either coalition, or if you need help finding the HPV vaccine, check out the coalitions on Facebook, email them or visit the coalitions’ websites:

l Linn County Immunization Coalition website: www.linncountyimmunization.org or email: Info@linncountyimmunization.org

l Sexual Health Alliance of Linn and Johnson Counties website: shacoalition.com or email: sexualhealthalliance@gmail.com

l Katie Jones and Heather Meador are health education specialists with Linn County Public Health. Comments: katherine.jones@linncounty.org

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