As most Florida students return to school on Monday, doctors are urging their parents to consider vaccinations beyond those required by the state, like the one for the human papilloma virus.
Florida is still in the lower third of the U.S. for HPV vaccination rates, despite it being the most common sexually transmitted infection, and one that can cause cervical cancer.
Doctor Anna Giuliano, an international HPV expert at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, said both boys and girls should get their first shot by age 11 or 12.
“The ideal time to vaccinate is middle school,” Giuliano said. “And we're starting a whole new semester just next week. But that's not the only time to vaccinate.”
The Food and Drug Administration initially approved the vaccine in the early 2000s, but only recently approved it for people up the age of 45.
The congressional briefing titled “Let’s End HPV-related Cancers” was presented by Moffitt Cancer Center in partnership with other groups. This briefing updated the public on the current state of HPV-related cancers; advances in vaccination, screening, and treatment that have placed the elimination of these cancers within reach; and what needs to be done to achieve this goal.
Giuliano said if you missed out on the vaccine in middle school, it's not too late.
“Those of you in graduate school, those of you who are out in the workforce: I want you to understand you have the opportunity also to be protected against the viruses that cause six cancers. That’s huge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends both boys and girls get their first shot by 11 or 12, a two-shot series, and up until age 26 for women and 21 for men.
After the age of 15, it’s a three-shot series.
“A few years ago, Florida was about dead last when it came to the uptake rate for children getting their HPV vaccine,” said U.S. Rep, Kathy castor.” And Dr. Giuliano and I, we're pleased Florida is making some progress. But we unfortunately remain in the bottom tier. There is a great room for improvement.”
According to Moffitt Cancer Center, one in 20 cancers worldwide is caused by HPV. In the United States, nearly 34,000 people will develop an HPV-related cancer this year.