Now Is The Time To Get Up-To-Date On Teen Shots – HPV Vaccine Helps Prevent 90% Of Cervical Cancers
By Stefani Kloiber
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many young people may have missed getting recommended vaccinations. With COVID-19 vaccine now available for individuals aged 5 years and older, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends scheduling vaccination appointments for children to get caught up on the vaccines they need. Along with the COVID-19 vaccine, pre-teens aged 11 to 12 years should get Tdap (helps prevent pertussis or whooping cough), MenACWY (helps prevent meningitis) and Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
The HPV vaccine helps prevent HPV-related cancers, including about 90% of cervical cancers. HPV is very common and almost all people will be exposed to it sometime in their lives. In Minnesota, more than half of adolescents have received their first dose of HPV vaccine by their 13th birthday but less than a third of them have completed the series. Those that missed their HPV vaccination during the pandemic can still begin or continue their vaccination series now. This vaccination is recommended for people aged 11 to 12 because their bodies build stronger protection to the virus when vaccinated at this age and protects them before they are exposed to HPV later in life.
Parents can speak with their health care provider about vaccinating their children. HPV vaccines can also be found at many locations including local pharmacies or local public health vaccination clinics. Free or low-cost vaccines are available. If your child does not have insurance or a health care provider, use the “Vaccination Clinic Web Map” at Free at Low-Cost Shots for Children (www.health.state.mn.us/people/immunize/basics/howpay.html) to find clinics that offer free or low-cost vaccines.
Visit Immunization: Me and My Family (health.state.mn.us/vaxontrack) for more information on recommended vaccines for your family as well as how you can access your child’s immunization record to learn which vaccines your child has received and still need.
Routine cervical cancer screenings are recommended for individuals starting at age 21 years. Cervical screening identifies precancers and finds cancer early when it is more easily treated. Sage, Minnesota’s free cancer screening program, pays for routine cervical cancer tests for Minnesotans 21-64 years of age that are uninsured or underinsured and meet income guidelines. Services are provided at over 450 Sage partner provider sites statewide.
Call 1-888-6HEALTH (1-888-643-2584) or go to Sage Cancer Screenings (www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/cancer/sage/screening/) to learn more or to schedule an appointment.