Local health officials concerned preteens not protected against certain cancers

In Sheboygan County, only 48.8 percent of preteens and teens are being vaccinated against certain cancers.

According to 2016 data from the Wisconsin Immunization Registry, only 48.8 percent of Sheboygan County 13-18-year-olds are vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) leaving 51.2 percent unvaccinated. By remaining unvaccinated, they may be vulnerable to cancers caused by HPV infections.

Diane Liebenthal, RN, BSN, MS, Sheboygan County Interim Health Officer, states, “Nearly all individuals will be infected by the HPV virus. Currently there is no way to detect which of those infections will develop into cancer. That is why the CDC recommends routine vaccination for all 11- and 12-year-old boys and girls. The HPV vaccine is the first and best way to prevent HPV infection and future HPV-related cancers.

All 11-12-year-olds should receive two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected against HPV. Individuals through age 26 who did not receive the vaccine at the recommended age should still receive the HPV vaccine series. We have a safe and effective vaccine that we can use to keep our children healthy.

Persistent HPV infections can cause cancers of the oropharynx (back of the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils) and anus in men and women; cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women, and cancers of the penis in men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for girls and boys at age 11 to 12 years for best protection against cancer.

“By vaccinating preteens against HPV today, we are reducing the changes that they become the cancer patients of tomorrow. The bottom line is that HPV vaccine helps prevent cancer,” said Karen McKeown, State Health Official.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to talk to their child’s doctor or nurse at their next health care visit. If a preteen has not received all doses of the HPV vaccine, make an appointment to get him or her vaccinated.

Parents and caregivers can find out which vaccinations their child needs and at what age on the Wisconsin Immunization Registry webpage. They can also keep track of their shots their preteens have had and what vaccines they may still need through the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.

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