HPV Vaccines Offered as Part Of Family Planning Services

In addition to the routine screenings for cervical cancer, family planning clinics in Marshall County also offer a vaccine meant to prevent many types of the disease.

Patty Owens, a nurse with the Marshall County Health Department, said the department offers two types of HPV vaccines – Cervarix and Gardasil. She noted after speaking to parents about how the vaccines work, most will take advantage of it.

”Most parents are open to it. It’s important a child is vaccinated against (human papillomavirus) before they become sexually active – not after they’ve already had it,” Owens said. ”That’s what is important – even before they think about it.”

During a recent board of health meeting, Administrator Ronda Francis said some parents believe the clinics, which also offer various methods of contraceptives, are promoting sexual activity.

”We’re not promoting becoming sexually active. We’re promoting health and educating parents about how (the vaccine) works,” she said.

Owens said they typically start the vaccine when a child is in the seventh grade.

Given in a three-dose series, the vaccine is recommended for boys and girls 11 or 12 years old, but can be given to children as young as 9 years old.

”We try to start them as young as we can,” Owens said. ”We try to educate parents to start the HPV vaccine for boys and girls and let them make the decision.”

Both Ceravix and Gardasil protect against cervical cancers and can be given to women.

In addition to cervical cancers, Gardasil also protects against cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva and it protects against genital warts. Gardasil is only given to males.