Nurse Practitioner Encourages Vaccine to Prevent Cancer

January 22, 2020

"As a health care provider and nurse practitioner, my role is to promote good health and well being. One of the topics I am most passionate about is the prevention of HPV-related diseases through vaccination. Since 2006, we've been able to offer pre-teens and young adults a vaccine series that can prevent HPV-related cancers.

Not long ago, I saw a young teen and her dad in clinic for her annual physical. We discussed pending immunizations, including the HPV vaccine. Her father initially deferred the vaccine, saying he'd heard bad things about its side effects. I wanted to know more. We talked openly about known accounts of fainting after receiving the vaccine and his unique concerns.

In making important decisions, we consider the risks of taking action, in this case, receiving the vaccine. Temporary injection site tenderness and swelling and occasionally, fainting. We also consider the risks of inaction. Exposure to a high-risk HPV strain that could evolve into a pre-cancer and, if not detected and treated, into cancer. This teen's dad accepted that by choosing to vaccinate his daughter against HPV, he was investing in her long-term good health.

Being a nurse practitioner in family medicine, I have the opportunity to see the benefits of this important vaccine -- fewer women with cervical pre-cancers and cancer, fewer men with oral and throat cancers and less heartbreak over cancer diagnoses and death. When I do see someone in clinic with an HPV-related disease, including those for whom the vaccine wasn’t an option, I lament that we weren't able to fully protect him or her from what is now a preventable illness.

I encourage parents, pre-teens, young adults and adults up to age 45 to get their questions answered and learn how to best promote good health and an HPV-free world. Call your health care provider today to protect your loved ones by vaccinating 11- and 12-year-olds with the 2-dose series and 15-45-year-olds with the 3-dose series."

- Mercy Nurse Practitioner Taylor Kelamis

More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.