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HPV vaccines on the decline since the pandemic began

Story By Meghan Mamlock
Local News Published 01/13/2021 6:32PM
Madison - The COVID-19 vaccine has been dominating the headlines in recent weeks. However, health officials say other vaccination rates in Wisconsin have been dropping. This includes the HPV vaccine, which health officials say can prevent 6 types of cancers.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Noelle Loconte, MD Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin would like to remind parents to get their children both girls and boys the HPV vaccination.

"We are noticing more of these head and neck cancers related to HPV so that's a trend that's rising," said Loconte." And then we're seeing that although Wisconsin has been improving its HPV vaccine over time, we are lagging behind some parts of the country and we have a long way to go."

Health officials have noticed a decline in vaccinations as less people are going to their doctor appointments.

"Head and neck cancer which really affects men much more than women the Oropharyngeal type is the predominant type is all HPV related and I'm sure people have seen the commercials with the person that's had like the big surgery or the tracheotomy that's the kind of stuff were talking about preventing with the HPV vaccine," said Loconte.

HPV can be contracted through oral and traditional intercourse.

"It only takes one sexual partner to get HPV. This is certainly not something that you need to have lots of sexual partners to get infected," said Loconte. "Most adult Americans have been infected with HPV. It's just some people happen to get the strains that are linked to cancer but its not all types of HPV that cause cancer."

Kids are able to get the 2 doses of the vaccination 6 months apart as early as age 9 typically 11-14 year old's.

Getting the vaccination will prevent cervical, anal, vulvar/vaginal, penial, and oropharyngeal(mouth and throat), which are very difficult cancers to treat.

"These are really tough cancers to treat and I think that's part of the problem is that they're cancers that adults get and so it's hard for a pediatrician who treats children to talk to the parents and the child about what they are preventing. Most of the time these doctors haven't seen these cancers," said Loconte.

Children are able to receive the HPV vaccine at their primary care facilities.
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