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HPV vaccine rates in El Paso higher than state, national average

CBS Newspath
Friday, July 19, 2013 - 7:35pm

The Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of HPV cases has significantly declined. The decrease is partly credited with the HPV vaccine that protects against the most dangerous strains. The HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006.

In El Paso County, the vaccination rate is higher than the rest of the state of Texas, as well as the nation. According to the Department of State Health Services, El Paso's HPV vaccine rate is 45.1 percent, compared to 32.3 percent in Texas and 34.8 percent in the United States.

Dr. Jose Prieto Jr., M.D., a pediatrician in East El Paso, said the virus can lead to cervical cancer in women, and can also cause warts in both males and females and has also been tied to throat cancer.

Dr. Prieto recommends the vaccine for both boys and girls starting at age 11, before their first sexual encounter.

Despite the encouraging statistics, some parents are still reluctant to vaccinate their kids. Recent surveys show only 50 percent of girls have received the first dose of the three shot vaccine. The rates are even lower for boys.

"I think because it kind of gives them the green light to, 'It's okay for you to have sex,' but I think as a parent, myself and my husband, we want to protect them no matter what," said Imelda Aguilar who has a 14-year-old son who is scheduled to get the HPV vaccine next month.

Imelda and her husband, Rene Aguilar, also have a 9-year-old daughter and said they will make sure she also gets the vaccine when she is old enough.

"I'd rather my child be protected from possibly getting cancer down the road than a stigma," said Rene.

The El Paso Department of Public Health has extended vaccination hours:

Northeast & Westside
Monday – Wednesday: 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Ysleta, Tigua & Henderson
Monday – Wednesday: 6:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

For more information, visit EPHealth.com or call 2-1-1.

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