With back to school just around the corner, health departments are reminding parents to get their kids vaccinated and updating their records.
There is one vaccine, however, that parents are urged to get but are not required to in the state of Utah – the HPV vaccine.
Utah Department of Health Immunization Program Manager Rich Lakin said Utah is average when talking about vaccine rates. He said the state is ranked somewhere in the middle for most vaccines, but for HPV, the state fluctuates between 47 and 50.
The HPV vaccination rate in 2017 for 13 to 17-year-olds in the U.S. was 65.5 percent. In Utah, it was 58.8 percent.
Lakin suspects the reason for the lower rate is the fact that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. And, even though it is an STD, doctors have suggested parents get their kids vaccinated around 11 years old. He said it’s licensed for the age due to their strong immune system. He said it’s not about them being sexually active at that age.
Lakin said it should also be considered since HPV vaccine can help prevent both oral and cervical cancers, genital warts and other types of STDs that children may be exposed in the future.
He said there is a vaccine that can help prevent cancer, which is what the Huntsman Cancer Institute considers to be a big breakthrough in cancer prevention. The vaccine has been available since 2006, with more than 100 million doses being given and little to no side effects being reported.
The CDC advises women up to 26 and men up to 21 to get the HPV vaccine. A child under the age of 15 needs two doses while over the age of 15 needs three of them.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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