Des Moines Register (08.23.2013)
Iowa’s vaccination rate for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is below the national average, which itself has a low rate of compliance, according to Philip Colletier, president for the Polk County Medical Society. A recent CDC report showed that only 33 percent of children had completed the three-shot sequence since the United States approved it in 2006 for girls and in 2009 for boys. Colletier said that Iowa’s completion rate was only 21 percent and education was the key to increasing this rate.
In a newsletter article, Colletier, a radiation oncologist at Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines, Iowa, urged medical providers to encourage parents to consider the vaccine and to educate them about the benefits. HPV, the most common STD in the United States, can infect the genital areas of both males and females. The HPV vaccine protects women from cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers; men from penile cancer; and both sexes from genital warts, anal cancer, and oropharyngeal cancers.
“Optimally, the best protection is conferred when the individuals receive all three doses and then subsequently have time to develop an immune response prior to becoming sexually active,” said Colletier, who also noted the HPV vaccine had already helped reduced the rate of new infections, which should result in a decline in HPV-related cancer rates.
“If you think about immunizations, there aren’t many shots we have that can prevent cancer,” said Dr. Ken Cheyne, an adolescent medicine physician at Blank Children’s Hospital. He said he assures parents of the vaccine’s safety and believes anticancer marketing has helped more patients receive the vaccine.