Daily Egyptian

FDA extends age threshold for HPV vaccine, students can get vaccinated at Student Health Services

By Claire Cowley, Staff Reporter

The Food and Drug Administration expanded the use of Gardasil 9 against HPV to adults up to age 45.

American internal medicine professional, Dr. Kurt Martin, a physician at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale Center for Medical Arts, said he hopes people will continue to get vaccinated throughout their lives.

“The increasing age might protect more people,” Martin said.

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Martin said HPV is a virus that takes many years or decades to develop into cancer and getting vaccinated can prevent both cervical and anal cancer.

“It’s basically a sexually transmitted cancer,” Martin said. “By vaccinating, you reduce the risk of people acquiring the virus.”

Martin said HPV is so common because people often transmit it without knowing they have it.  

“If somebody acquires HPV at age 80, their risk of developing cancer is pretty low,” Martin said.

Martin also said somebody in their 40’s can transmit to somebody younger and risks would be higher.  

“People are acquiring new partners after the age of 40 because of divorce, serial monogamy, […] that obviously increases the risk as they go on,” Martin said.

Martin also said the vaccine is universally recommended for children and if parents think it’s time to vaccinate their child, they probably waited too long.

“We want to make sure we get people vaccinated before they become sexually active, not after,” Martin said. “I can’t tell you the amount of people who said, oh it’s too early, we don’t really need to do that.”

Martin said it happens at all different ages and socioeconomic classes.

“Saying it won’t happen to your child because you know […] as a parent we all kick ourselves somehow thinking that our kids are different,” Martin said.

Jodi Robertson, Student Health Center administrative nurse, said the HPV vaccine can also prevent vulvar, throat, and penile cancer in males and females.

“HPV is transmitted through intimate skin to skin contact,” Robertson said.

Robertson said Student Health Services offers the vaccine.

Robertson said to screen for HPV, women have a diagnostic procedure or pap smear test at age 21 and every three years, if the initial test is normal.

“There is no routine screening test for anal or penile cancer because more information is still needed to find out if those tests are effective,” Robertson said.

Robertson said there is no approved test to find early signs of oropharyngeal cancer.

“Visit [your] health provider for a general health screening and discuss starting this important vaccination series,” Robertson said.

Brielle Lawrence, a junior studying radio-television, said she was about 16 years old when she received the HPV vaccine at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago.

“I didn’t know what [HPV] was or what [the vaccine] was for, but now that I’m aware at this age, I’m grateful that I started getting it at a young age,” Lawrence said.

When she went to Northwestern Hospital, Lawrence said her doctor disclosed reasons why vaccination at age 16 is recommended and it made sense to her.

“It was comforting to know that I’m in a sense protected against [HPV,] like starting at an early age because I don’t know if it’s gotten worse [among the American population,]” Lawrence said. “But, I’m glad that it’s something my parents made me do.”

Lawrence also said now she is aware and thanks God for early vaccination.

“Other than you being able to get [HPV] sexually, that was my biggest concern because my parents wanted to me be safe out here,” Lawrence said. “So that if anything happened, at least that would be taken care of.”

Lawrence said she is educated on things she wanted to know more about after her doctor visit.  

“Now, I [can be sexually active] with expectations and I know how to prepare for them,” Lawrence said. “I think that is one of the major things that being vaccinated helped me at, like being able to protect myself.”

Lawrence said she thinks the national age expansion is an excellent idea because with all these other things going around, people can never be too careful.

“I’m glad that adults at that age can get vaccinated for things that they probably ended up getting,” Lawrence said.

Students can make a clinical appointment online, in person or over the phone with Student Health Services to receive the HPV vaccine.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story had Dr. Kurt Martin’s name listed as Dr. Martin Kurt.

Staff reporter Claire Cowley can be reached at ccowley@dailyegyptian.com.

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