For most families, back-to-school means it’s time to head back to the doctor. The start of the school year is a helpful reminder to visit your health care professional to get your yearly physical and address any health problems you haven’t had checked yet.
For kids and teens, it’s also a good time to get vaccinated. Your state might even require your kids to have certain vaccinations before they can attend school. Check with your children’s health care professionals or schools, or your state health department, to find out which vaccinations are required. Making sure your kids’ vaccinations are up-to-date is the best way to protect them from serious and life-threatening diseases, and protect those who can’t be vaccinated due to compromised immune systems.
If your kids are between ages 11-12, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) recommends they get the HPV vaccine (both boys and girls). This is one of few vaccines that can ultimately prevent cancer. (It is required for 7th graders in Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia.)
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on your child’s doctor to tell you about the link between HPV and cancer. A survey commissioned by the Prevent Cancer Foundation® shows 62 percent of adults indicate their child’s physician has not stressed the importance of the HPV vaccination. Use back-to-school physicals and vaccinations as a reminder to ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine.
If your child has missed a vaccine, don’t worry―most men can get a catch-up HPV vaccine until age 21 and women can get it until age 26. Talk to your health care professional to get a catch-up immunization schedule to get back on track.
To learn more about the link between viruses and cancer, visit thinkaboutthelink.org.