Island families are in a unique position to prevent their children from developing several cancers in later life by ensuring their pre-teen sons and daughters begin and complete a full course of the HPV vaccine.
HPV vaccine produces the strongest immune response in preteens and the vaccine will prevent the covered types of HPV only if given before exposure to the virus. HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer, as well as many vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, throat, nose, and tongue cancers. Research shows the HPV vaccine is both safe and effective.
The American Cancer Society recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys beginning at age 11 or 12, although it can be started as early as age 9. HPV vaccination is also recommended for females 13 to 26 years old and for males 13 to 21 years old who have not started the vaccines or who have started but not completed the series. Males 22 to 26 years old may also be vaccinated. HPV vaccines are not approved nor recommended after age 26. While the vaccines are safe, they will not provide much, if any, benefit.
The CDC recently introduced a two-shot regimen for children age 9 – 14. Three doses are still recommended for those who begin the series at age 15 – 26. *Gardasil®, Gardasil 9®, and Cervarix® are the brand names of the vaccines used today. All help prevent infection by HPV-16 and HPV-18, which. These two types of HPV cause about 70% of all cervical cancers and pre-cancers, as well as many cancers of the anus, penis, vulva, vagina, and throat. Gardasil also helps prevent infection by the 2 types of HPV (HPV-6 and HPV-11) that cause most genital warts.
Gardasil 9 helps prevent infection with the same 4 types of HPV as Gardasil, plus 5 other high risk types: 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. Together these types cause about 90% of cervical cancers.
Insurance plans will probably cover the cost if the vaccine is given according to national guidelines. But check with your insurance plan to be sure.
The vaccines are included in the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. This program covers vaccine costs for children and teens who don’t have insurance and for some children and teens who are underinsured. The VFC program provides free vaccines to children and teens younger than 19 years of age, who are either Medicaid-eligible, American Indian or Alaska Native, or uninsured.
The VFC program also allows children and teens to get VFC vaccines through federally qualified health centers or rural health centers. For more on the VFC program or to find the VFC contact where you live, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/contacts-state.html, or call 1-800-232-4636.
For more information on preventing cancer in your child through HPV vaccination, visit https://www.cancer.org/…/infectious-a…/hpv/hpv-vaccines.html