Understanding the importance of the HPV vaccination

Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been brought to my attention multiple times during the past few months; but the most concerning of those mentions was news from a local oncologist. The oncologist mentioned Kansans performed poorly in HPV immunization. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV causes more than 33,700 cases of cancer in men and women every year in the U.S. HPV vaccination can prevent 31,200 of these cancers by preventing the infections that cause those cancers. That’s the same as the average attendance for a baseball game.

Since this immunization can decrease chances of cancer by that much, why are Kansans performing so poorly on getting the HPV immunization?

If you need more facts before making your decision to schedule your (or your child’s) immunization, take a few moments to read the following HPV and the HPV immunization facts.

What is HPV?

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease caused by skin-on-skin sexual contact. It can cause cancer and vaginal or vulvar warts, and can even be spread when an HPV-infected person isn’t showing signs or symptoms.

Prevent cancer

The HPV vaccination can prevent cancer. Almost every person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life without the HPV vaccination. Cancers and genital warts caused by HPV dropped 71% among teen girls who have been vaccinated.

Vaccination ages

While the benefits of the vaccine are greater if received before becoming sexually active, the CDC recommends males and females aged 9-26 be vaccinated.

Safety

With more than 100 million doses distributed in the United States, HPV vaccine has a reassuring safety record that’s backed by more than 10 years of monitoring and research. Like any vaccine or medicine, the HPV vaccine can cause side effects. However, the benefits of the HPV vaccination far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.

The most common side effects are mild and include:

  • Pain, redness or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Fainting after any vaccine, including the HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents. To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, adolescents should be seated or lying down during vaccination and remain in that position for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.

To see how HPV vaccines are covered by BCBSKS, please refer to your contract in BlueAccess®, or call the customer service number on the back of your membership ID card.

Source: Human Pappilomavirus

Daryl Callahan, D.O., joined BCBSKS in 2017 with 28 years of experience in the medical profession. He is board certified in family practice, and served as a family physician at the Phillips County Hospital and physician partner of HealthCare Associates Medical Center in Phillipsburg.Dr. Callahan served 30 years in the National Guard. He retired as a colonel and was the state surgeon for the Kansas Army National Guard.

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