Happy HPV Prevention Week and Cervical Cancer Prevention Month! Here’s your reminder to treat yourself (and your kids) with protection from HPV and HPV-related cancers!
By Mariah Cowsert
January 27, 2023
Irecently went in to get my annual flu shot at the CVS in my neighborhood, which was easy to book online, and then I took myself to Baby’s on Fire, a very cozy coffee shop if you’re a Baltimore local, for a matcha oat latte and croissant afterwards. This has been a family and personal tradition since I got my first Gardasil 9 shot as a nervous 12-year-old in 7th grade—get a vaccine, then a little treat afterwards.
I still remember my sister’s screams—she did not handle vaccines as well as me—coming to a halt when my mom mentioned that we could stop for a treat or fun lunch (which was typically a McDonald’s kids’ meal and a Shrek toy that came with it) on the way back to school after our shots. Because sometimes you just need a little something fun to get through a scary moment as a kid, and even as an adult now!
My mom was a bit ahead of the curve in the early 2000s, making sure my sister and I both got both of our Gardisal 9 vaccinations to help protect us from HPV. Getting vaccinated is also a way to help protect you (or your children) from HPV-related cancers. Based on CDC data, about 13 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. While most people will clear the virus on their own, HPV can cause cervical, penile, anal, or throat cancer if it sticks around in your body. And the best part is that the HPV vaccine works! There are data to support that HPV vaccination can prevent 33,700 cases of HPV-related cancers each year (out of nearly 36,500 cases of HPV related cancers total per year)!
Since young men and non-binary individuals weren’t included in the initial targeted group, if you’re eligible now to get the vaccine, make a plan to go get it, and maybe even get yourself a little treat after your appointment too! Because sometimes you just need a little croissant courage, ya know?
While the Gardasil 9 two-dose vaccine was originally approved for girls ages 9 to 26, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center—it’s now recommended that people of all genders get vaccinated for HPV up to age 45! This expanded age range means that for folks who may have been too old when the vaccine was first available, the good news is that you’re now eligible! If you’re 15 to 45 and looking to get the vaccine, your healthcare provider or vaccine clinic may suggest three-doses instead of two to ensure that you’re getting the proper dosage for your age group.
Since young men and non-binary individuals weren’t included in the initial targeted group, if you’re eligible now to get the vaccine, make a plan to go get it, and maybe even get yourself a little treat after your appointment too! Because sometimes you just need a little croissant courage, ya know? My partner who is turning 30 soon (happy early birthday, Josh!) has now gotten his first dose and is scheduled for the second dose out of 3 next week. It’s not too late to talk to your friends, loved ones, and even your co-workers about getting their HPV vaccines!
Need more information on the vaccine before deciding? From short videos to an interactive health chatbot and everything in between, we’ve got you covered with HPV resources that help de-mystify what to expect and mild side effects that you may experience post- vaccine.
Plus, all of our HPV resources are versatile and can be useful for healthcare providers and teachers to share with students, patients, and their families this Cervical Cancer Awareness Month (and beyond!)
For Youth and Adults
Zola the HPV Healthbot | Interactive Facebook Chatbot
Zola, available as a Facebook Chatbot, answers questions about HPV and HPV vaccination to help parents and young adults in their decision to get their children or themselves vaccinated. Zola provides concise, friendly, and empathetic bits of information using an approachable, caring, and humorous voice.
HPV: Not Too Late | Video and Infographic
Take a look at HPV: Not Too Late, a short video available in English and Spanish, to answer all your questions about the HPV vaccine. We’ve also got an infographic (best viewed on a mobile device) that breaks it all down, by the numbers.
HPV 101 | Digital Tip Sheet
To prepare you to talk with young people about HPV, we’ve got the answers to their most frequently asked questions in the digital tip sheet, HPV 101.
For Parents and Caregivers
HPV: The Sooner the Better for Peace of Mind | Video and Infographic
Start here with this short, animated video to answer your questions, and then, take home this infographic to start a conversation with your family.
Mariah brings an artistic lens to nonprofit communications in her role as Digital Content Creator. With the bulk of her experience working in social services and at affordable housing organizations—she has a passion for diving deeper into (and helping bridge the gap between) health care and housing. In her free time, Mariah can be found tending to her growing jungle of houseplants, making collage and textile art, reading Mary Oliver poems in nature, and experimenting with new vegetarian recipes. Read more about Mariah.