Utah doctors urge HPV vaccine for ages 11 and up

A new video series featuring Utah doctors seeks to alert parents about the importance of getting their sons and daughters vaccinated to protect them from HPV-related cancers.

HPV is the Human Papilloma Virus.

The series produced by the Utah Department of Health and University of Utah Health Care emphasizes a significant gap between awareness of the HPV vaccine and knowledge of it.

The vaccine protects against cervical and several other cancers in both males and females and is recommended for girls and boys at age 11 or 12.

Is the HPV virus transferred only by sexual contact?

“Yes, close intimate contact,” said Dr. Ellie Brownstein, a pediatrician at University of Utah Healthcare, and one of the doctors featured on the videos. “The virus is very prevelant, in fact most of us will be exposed at some point in our lives to the virus.

“The goal is to get the vaccine to folks before they are ever exposed to the virus, when it can be much more effective. The immune system responds best to the vaccine at those ages of about 11 or 12, so that is why we encourage it then.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Utah, only 25.2 percent of females and 14.4 percent of males aged 13-15 years, had completed the recommended three-dose series of shots in 2014.

Parents with questions about the HPV vaccine should contact their health care provider or local health department.

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