HPV infections in teens drop by more than half nationally

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Human papillomavirus infections have dropped by more than half in teens who have gotten the vaccine, according to a new report by the CDC.

HPV is what causes nearly all cervical cancers, and can cause other cancers, like anal or throat cancers. It’s transmitted through sex and skin to skin contact, and anyone who is sexually active at some point in their life is at risk for the infection. But some parents are concerned getting the vaccination advocates early sexual activity.

Since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2005, infections among teens have gone down by almost 65 percent.

“The Gardasil 9 came out last year and that is protecting against 90 percent of cancers caused by human papillomavirus and that’s huge deal,” Kathy Kapteyne, Program Manager for Immunizations at the El Paso County Health Department, said.

There are three doses, and the vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls ages 9 to 26. The El Paso County Health Department says parents should think about starting around age 11.

“The younger the kids get it, the better their protection against human papillomavirus and therefore cancers for the rest of their life,” said Kapteyne.

As for Colorado, the number of girls getting the vaccine ages 13 to 17 is above the national average, at about 40 percent. Boys, on the other hand, are below the rest of the country at nearly 9 percent.

“The biggest side effect is a sore arm,” Kapteyne said. “Probably 90 percent are going to have pain at the injection site. Maybe one in three is going to have a little redness or swelling. Maybe one in 10 will have a low grade fever. It’s pretty much the same as any other vaccine.”

The original Gardasil 4 vaccine only prevented four different strains of HPV. The latest Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against all nine known strains of human papillomavirus.

El Paso County health officials said there’s no better time to get the HPV vaccine than right now. They offer the vaccine to children as early as 9 years old. You can receive the HPV vaccine up until the age of 26. If you’re 26 years old right now, you can still start the dosage and continue on from there.

>> More information about the vaccines available at the El Paso County Health Department.

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