HPV Vaccination Rates Rising in Kansas

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Bob Hallinan

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          A new CDC report shows Kansas adolescent HPV vaccination rates continue to improve for both girls and boys. The greatest increase was seen in girls with 62 percent having at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, compared to 51 percent in 2015.

         Approximately 79 million Americans are currently infected with the HPV or Human Papilloma Virus, according to the CDC. HPV causes many different types of cancer in both women and men. Cervical cancer is almost exclusively caused by HPV. The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls because their immune systems are the most receptive to the vaccine at that age.

            Dr. Kevin Ault, professor and division director of general obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kansas Medical Center and clinician at The University of Kansas Health System, says the report is encouraging. Even with the report, Dr. Ault is concerned about low vaccination and high head and neck cancer rates in Kansas and Missouri.  Kansas is still among the lowest states in HPV vaccination rates and among the highest in cervical cancer rates. Missouri is also among the lowest states in vaccination rates and among the highest in head and neck cancer rates.

           In the video, Dr. Ault says, “While we have screening for cervical cancer, there is no screening for head and neck cancers, which often go undetected too long. This vaccine can prevent all of those cancers, and we encourage parents to talk to their child’s pediatrician about the HPV vaccine.

Dr. Ault advises pediatricians and family medicine doctors to emphasize that the vaccine is a cancer vaccine and notes that taking it will save lives.

            Dr. Ault hopes the news will encourage more vaccinations by doctors and parents.

            The video also includes b-roll of a young patient receiving the vaccine.

            For more information on HPV vaccines, see The University of Kansas Cancer Center site here.