HPV vaccination recommended for those at risk

| November 21, 2014 | 1 Comment

Cheryl Pellerin
DOD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON — Immunization at a young age against the human papilloma virus can protect those who are typically infected in the U.S., such as military- or college-age young adults, from a range of cancers as adults, an expert from the Defense Health Agency has said.

Air Force Lt. Col. Amy Costello, a pediatrician who specializes in public health, is chief of the Immunization Healthcare Operations Section in the Defense Health Agency Immunization Healthcare Branch. She spoke about the HPV vaccine at the Pentagon with Department of Defense News.

“Those who typically get infected in the United States are people in their late teens and early 20s, so either early military-age or college-age young adults,” Costello said.

Vaccinations for human papilloma virus, or HPV, at ages 11 and 12, can greatly reduce cancers later in life. (File photo)

Vaccinations for human papilloma virus, or HPV, at ages 11 and 12, can greatly reduce cancers later in life. (File photo)

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that 11-to 12-year olds be vaccinated at their well-child doctor’s visit, she added.

Every year the U.S. reports 14 million new HPV infections in men and women, Costello added. The result of such HPV infections for thousands is cancer — mostly in male and female reproductive systems and in the mouth and throat. In rare cases, Costello said, babies born to women who have HPV can develop the virus in their upper respiratory tract, often around their vocal cords.

HPV causes 17,000 cancers in women, 9,000 in men each year.

“In the United States, HPV causes 17,000 cancers in women and 9,000 cancers in men each year,” Costello said, adding that most people never know they are infected.

Women usually find out they’re infected when they have an abnormal Pap smear, she said, and for men, there’s no good screening, so they don’t find out they’ve been infected until it’s too late.

The vaccine is given in a three-shot series beginning when boys and girls are around 11 years old. It’s given in early adolescence for two reasons, Costello said.

“Children have the best immune response to the vaccine when they are between 9 and 15 years old,” she explained, “and the best time to give the vaccine is when kids are in their early teens, before they are at risk.”

• U.S. immunization
More than 65 million doses of HPV vaccine have been given in the U.S. It has not been shown to cause major side effects, Costello said, and the vaccine is effective.

“Studies so far show that teenage American girls have seen a 50 percent decrease in infection with the four strains of HPV that the vaccine prevents,” the pediatrician noted.

Before vaccination began in 2006, about 11 percent of American girls aged 14 to 19 were infected with one of the HPV strains that the vaccine protects against. By 2010, that number had dropped to 5 percent, Costello said.

HPV vaccination is recommended routinely up to age 21 in men and age 26 in women. Costello said that in older people, the vaccine doesn’t seem as effective or as able to protect against the infection.

But, she said, the vaccine does protect against four different kinds of HPV strains, the four most common kinds, so the vaccine may provide some protection even for people who have been infected with one or two different kinds of HPV.

“So if you’re under 21 and a man, or under 26 and a woman,” Costello said, “it’s probably worth it to go get your (vaccine) series completed.”

• Importance of all three doses
Vaccination has been recommended routinely for girls since 2006, and routinely for boys since 2011, Costello said, adding that the second shot is given one or two months after the first, and the third shot at six months after the first.

It’s important to get all three doses for long-lasting protection, she said.

“If you are late with one dose, you don’t have to start the series over; just pick up where you left off,” the doctor said. “The protection has been shown to last at least 10 years in girls and five years in boys, so far,” she said. “Maybe longer, we only have data since about 2004.”

• TAMC HPV immunizations
Beneficiaries  may contact the clinics below for support.

•TAMC Allergy/Adult Immunization Clinic.
Call (808) 433-2778, ext. 5,3.
Located on the 4th Floor, C Wing (Dept. of Medicine).
Hours are weekdays, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Walk-in hours for allergy shots are given Mondays and Wednesdays, 1-3 p.m.; Fridays, 7:30-8:30 a.m.
Immunizations are given daily during clinic hours.

•Immunization Clinic (Pediatric).
Call (808) 433-6234.
Located on the 4th Floor, F Wing, Room 4F702, Mountainside.
Hours are weekdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

No appointments are necessary, but each patient must sign in at the front desk. Please bring immunization record, medical record, outpatient medical card and ID cards applicable for age.

Minors being immunized must be accompanied by parents or legal guardians who must sign their consent forms.

Adolescents with appropriate records may be immunized in the Adolescent Clinic.

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Category: Community, Health, Safety

Comments (1)

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  1. Steve Hinks says:

    Do not have this vaccine until you have researched the serious adverse events.

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