There are vaccines available to reduce your risk of developing cancer and National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is the perfect time to learn how these vaccines can protect you and your loved ones from deadly diseases.
Hepatitis B and the human papillomavirus (HPV) are common viruses that can lead to cancer. Most people infected with these viruses don’t know it because they will rarely show signs or symptoms. It is imperative you and your family get immunized against these viruses before being exposed to them to earn the full benefit of anti-cancer vaccines. It’s time to Think About the Link® between viruses and cancer.
Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B and C are leading causes of liver cancer worldwide. Hepatitis B is responsible for about 15 percent of liver cancer cases in the U.S. Fortunately, most people born in the U.S. receive the hepatitis B vaccine during infancy and almost all U.S. states have a hepatitis B vaccine mandate for day care and public school entry. People born outside the U.S. may want to get tested for hepatitis B or vaccinated if deemed appropriate by a health care professional.
The Centers for Disease Control and Disease Prevention (CDC) recommends the hepatitis B vaccine for all infants at birth and children up to 18 years old. The vaccine is also recommended for adults who are at high risk of hepatitis B infection.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., infecting nearly 14 million people every year. HPV causes at least 90 percent of all cervical and anal cancers, as well as the majority of oropharyngeal, vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers.
The HPV vaccine is a proven, safe and effective cancer prevention tool, but it is severely underused across the country. As of 2015, only 63 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys ages 13–17 had received the first dose of the HPV vaccine series.
The CDC recommends boys and girls get two doses of HPV vaccine at ages 11-12, though they can still receive just two doses of the vaccine up to age 15. Teens and young adults age 15 or older require three doses of the vaccine. Most young men can be vaccinated until age 21, and young women can be vaccinated until age 26.
Protect yourself and your family
Both hepatitis B and HPV can hide in the body for years before showing any symptoms. That’s why everyone should consider getting tested for the viruses at least once and vaccinated for lifetime protection. Take the time this month to talk to your health care professional about getting yourself or your family vaccinated to Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®