Two-thirds of Iowa’s adolescents have received the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; while only 19 percent have received the three doses of HPV vaccine recommended for full protection. The HPV vaccine, or human papillomavirus vaccine, protects against cervical cancer. The Iowa Department of Public Health is working to improve these vaccination rates.

According to IDPH, 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk states about 14 million people become newly infected each year, and in most cases the HPV infection will go away with the individual never knowing they had it.

HPV infections that do not go away may cause a variety of cancers, including cervical cancer. Approximately 33,000 HPV-associated cancers occur annually in the U.S., including 12,600 HPV-associated cancers in males.

The vaccine protects against the most common types of HPV, which are responsible for approximately 90 percent of cervical cancers.

An infected individual can spread the virus even when they have no signs or symptoms. The HPV vaccine works best when given in early adolescence, and both boys and girls are recommended to receive three doses of vaccine for full protection.

For more information on the HPV vaccine click here.