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Health Department wants to boost HPV vaccination rates
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The Barton County Health Department has been chosen to participate in the Kansas Foundation for Medical Care Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Initiative, Health Director Shelly Schneider said.
HPV is a common virus that impacts both men and women, Schneider said. In the United States, each year HPV causes about 17,600 cancers in woman and 9,300 cancers in men.
“The HPV vaccine reduces the risk for HPV-related cancers,” she said. “These cancers can be prevented with immunization.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recommends that both boys and girls receive the three doses over six months starting at the age of 11. This produces a higher immune response in preteens than older adolescents.
This vaccine is usually given when a pre-teen turns 11, in conjunction with a meningococcal vaccine (meningitis) and a TdAp vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis). It is a three-shot series with the goal being the child gets all of the injections in a six-month time frame.
Protection is not complete until the third dose is received.
The Initiative is targeted for the age range of 11–18 years of age and the goal is to insure that all three doses are provided to the patient, Schneider said. Kansas ranks among one of the lowest in the United States, with Barton County at 20 percent.
 In general, HPV is a collection of viruses that cause warts on the hands, feet and genitals, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most commonly, it is a sexually transmitted disease.
About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with it each year, the CDC reports. HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives and it usually causes no symptoms so one can’t tell that they have it. For most women, HPV will go away on its own.
When HPV infections persist, people are at risk for cancer, the CDC reports. HPV vaccination can prevent many of these cancers and has been proven to last well after 10 years of the administration of the vaccine.
“A common misnomer is that you have to be sexually active to get this vaccine or if your child gets the vaccine, they will become sexually active,” Schneider said.  One of the reasons the age range is 11 -12 is so that the protection has time to develop before the youth decide to engage in these behaviors.
There is no link stating that there is an increase in sexuality with the administration of the vaccine. 
“The best thing we can do is encourage our parents to get their children immunized,” she said.  “It is also a great show of protection for our youth’s future spouses.”
It is known that the virus can lay dormant for years and then become activated. “So protection is our only resource in protecting our soon to be son-in-laws or daughters-in-laws,” she said. 
“I do believe strongly in this vaccine,” Schneider said. “If there was a vaccine for breast cancer, everyone would insure our youth were receiving this.”