Consider these optional vaccine recommendations.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Did you know that there is a sexually transmitted virus that causes cancer and nearly every person will become exposed at some point in their lifetime? Did you know this same STI causes genital warts? Did you know that there is a vaccine that can also help to prevent against nearly 70% of these cancers and 90% of the warts Have you gotten your shots yet?
We are talking about Human Papillomavirus, also called HPV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over 14 million people, both men and women, are infected with HPV in the U.S. every year. Statistics show that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and is spread by skin to skin contact. That means that even “fooling around” or kissing can spread the virus. Research also shows that almost every person will contract the infection during their lifetime and while most of the time the body’s immune system fights it off, sometimes it does not. HPV infection can cause very serious health consequences including mouth and throat cancer, cervical cancer, anal cancers, penile cancers, and genital warts, just to name a few.
A safe and effective vaccine is available to help protect against the most serious strains of HPV infection, but unfortunately the rates of vaccination in this country are low. This means the risks of the virus being spread in the community are still very high. The vaccine, commonly known as Gardasil, is given in three doses usually over a six-month period of time. If you missed one or forgot to finish, don’t worry, you do not need to start over, you just continue where you left off.
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Here are some common questions about HPV vaccines:
Is the vaccine safe?
There have been more than 60 million doses of the HPV vaccine given in the U.S. alone. Several large studies have looked at the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. None have shown increased risks related to the HPV vaccine compared to other common immunizations such as Flu shots or the Tetanus vaccine.
I've heard the shot hurts a lot. Is that true?
Like other vaccines, most side effects are mild, primarily pain or redness in the arm. Occasionally, patients experience dizziness right after getting the shot, which is why we ask you to wait for 10 - 15 minutes in the waiting room after getting the vaccine. These symptoms, if they occur, go away quickly and do not cause any long-term side effects, unlike HPV infection, which can cause problems throughout your life.
I have only one partner, so why do I need this vaccine?
HPV is so common that almost everyone will be infected at some point. It is estimated that 79 million Americans are currently infected with 14 million new HPV infections each year. Most people infected will never know and early detection is not always possible. So, even if you wait until marriage to have sex, or have only one partner, you could still be exposed if your partner has been exposed during previous encounters. You or your partner could have been exposed by touching even if you've never had sex. Combined, there are about 33,000 HPV-related cancers each year in the U.S. - and most could be prevented with HPV vaccine. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself for now and the future.
Who should get this vaccine?
Ideally, the vaccine is given at age 11 or 12 but can be given to any female or male not previously vaccinated up to age 26. The vaccine is recommended by the CDC, The World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, and your own primary care physician as a means to limit your risk to serious disease from HPV infection.
How much does the vaccine cost?
The vaccine is now fully covered in the Affordable Care Act preventive services option, meaning there is no co-pay or out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine if given by an in-network provider. CHS offers the vaccine in the health services office and will work with your insurance plan to make sure the vaccine is fully covered without cost to the patient.
The office of counseling and health services (CHS) is launching a campus campaign to increase awareness about Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the importance of getting vaccinated against this very common and serious infection.
To schedule an appointment to get your HPV vaccine, log into our secure health services portal.
Quadrivalent Meningococcal Vaccine and Meningococcal Group B Vaccine (MenB)
Meningococcal disease is a severe, potentially life-threatening illness. Several studies have shown that residential college students are at increased risk of being infected by meningitis bacteria, especially in their first year at school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommendations regarding the use of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine for college students. It is highly recommended that all newly entering residential students at Salem State University be appropriately vaccinated with the Meningitis vaccine.
Outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease (Men B) have been reported on U.S. college campuses during the last several years, often with tragic consequences. Unfortunately, the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine does not provide protection against Men B disease. CDC recommends the additional use of Men B vaccines for people identified to be at increased risk. We recommend speaking with your healthcare provider about the Men B vaccine and discuss whether this additional vaccine is appropriate for your student.
Additional information can be found on the CDC website vaccine information statements.