This story appeared in CBS 2 Iowa. Read more here.

Doctors at UI Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center joined other National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer centers across the country in issuing a statement urging Americans to get human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations of adolescents back on schedule.

“Vaccinations have just become a lower priority and that makes sense. But right now, we need to get kids back on track.” said Dr. Natoshia Askelson, Assistant Professor at UI in the College of Public Health.

With the pandemic, regular vaccine and doctors appointments were back tracked or did not occur. Even before the pandemic, only 59% of adolescents in Iowa were vaccinated. Dr. Askelson says this is no where near where the numbers should be. The total United States adolescent population having been vaccinated was 49%.

Adolescents ages nine through 12 are urged to get their HPV vaccine. These vaccines are proven to be the most beneficial in these ages. Adolescents up to age 26 are also urged to finish or receive their vaccines as well. The HPV vaccine can be distributed to those up to age 45.

HPV can cause six types of cancer, that can be prevented through vaccination. Cancers include:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Cancers of the vagina
  • Cancers of the vulva
  • Cancers of the penis
  • Anal cancer
  • Oral cancer (with this cancer being on the rise in Iowa)

“We are really lucky that we have this HPV vaccination as an incredible, powerful tool to eliminate HPV associated cancers and we’ve never had this opportunity before. It’s really important to save people from possible cancer and potentially death. Right now it’s safe and effective to use this vaccine. It has been given to millions of people. There have been hundreds of studies done. But we just don’t have enough people taking the vaccine.” said Askelson.

Parents can call local health care providers to schedule the HPV vaccine and any other vaccines needed for the child’s recommended age.