CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Vaccinations are always a hot topic, and one vaccine in particular is making headlines. It's the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine that has surfaced as a highly recommended immunization for adolescents and adults.
The Texas Tribune recently reported that Texas has low HPV vaccination rates despite cervical cancer rates being high. One doctor at the City-County Health Department says, although it is not necessary, getting the HPV vaccine will help prevent other cancers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, HPV infections are so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV in their lifetime.
"Most of the time our body will be able to fight it off," she said. "Other times if the virus is persistent in the body, it can lead to abnormal cells, and those abnormal cells can lead to cancer."
The City-County Health Department, located at 1702 Horne Rd, always offers vaccinations to the public, and will hold its annual Back 2 School immunization clinic from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. on Saturday.
Dr. Onufrak believes that people are just not as educated on the HPV vaccine as other vaccinations. The human papillomavirus is highly contagious and is spread through skin-to-skin contact.
The CDC says HPV can cause different cancers in the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women; the penis in men; and the anus and back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils, in both women and men.
Every year in the United States, HPV causes 33,700 cases of cancer in men and women.
The HPV vaccine is not mandatory in Texas, but according to the National Immunization Survey, Texas' HPV vaccination rate is low compared to the national average.
"You can get (the vaccine) as early as (at age) nine," Dr. Onufrak said. "If you decide to get it later -- so 15 and older -- FDA has actually approved the vaccine for up to 45 years old."