Doctors worry patients are missing HPV vaccine, cancer screenings amid pandemic

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Posted at 7:40 AM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 08:40:58-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Fewer people are going to their annual well visits and getting immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vanderbilt University Medical Center physicians say this has led to a vaccination gap among U.S. children and adolescents.

Doctors are also worried that people have put off their cancer screenings too long. They’re concerned that some children have missed their HPV vaccine, as well.

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center had partnered with 71 other National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers and partner organizations to urge physicians, parents and young adults to get HPV vaccinations back on track.

Doctors say the vaccine can prevent several types of cancer, but it has to be administered early in life to be effective.

Nearly 80 million Americans – one out of every 4 people – are infected with HPV, a virus that causes several types of cancers. Of those millions, more than 36,000 will be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer this year.

Vanderbilt Health’s CEO Dr. Jeff Balser says people shouldn’t delay care that’s important to your overall health.

"We must be careful as we restart activities, but that doesn't mean delaying care that's important to your health. We can save lives with good preventative care and early treatment,” said Dr. Balser.

Doctors say since the CDC recently authorized the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15 this could be a good time to get the HPV vaccine for you child during their next checkup.