Letters to the Editor

Physician nudges raise HPV vaccination rates

Thank you for calling attention to the importance of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cancer (“Don’t wait to protect Iowa kids from cancer,” March 16).

Getting all preteens vaccinated for HPV is critical in preventing at least six types of cancer, but vaccination rates in Iowa are startlingly low. The only way to increase vaccination rates — and save the lives of Iowans — is with a strong recommendation from health care professionals.

Research shows health care professionals have significant influence on a patient’s decision to get the HPV vaccine for cancer prevention or, in the case of young patients, the parents’ decision. Yet more than 60 percent of parents surveyed say their children’s pediatricians have not stressed the importance of getting the vaccine.

Health care professionals can pledge to talk their patients about the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer. If you’re a patient or parent, ask your doctor about getting the vaccine. It is most effective at ages 11-12, when the immune response is strongest, but is also available and effective for older teens and young adults.

To take the pledge or find out more on the link between HPV and cancer, visit www.thinkaboutthelink.org/pledge.

Carolyn Aldigé

Founder/CEO,Prevent Cancer Foundation

Alexandria, Va.

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