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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Date: October 25, 2011


Controversial? Maybe. Prevention against a likely disease? Definitely.

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation that both girls and boys at age 11 or 12 be vaccinated for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus spread through sexual contact. Most people with HPV have no symptoms so they are unaware they have it. There are approximately 40 types of genital HPV. Some cause cervical cancer in women, others cause additional forms of cancer in both men and women and other types cause genital warts in both males and females.

The CDC recommendation for girls and boys may seem an early age to vaccinate against a sexually transmitted disease, but it is the best time because prevention should begin well before the age of sexual activity. "Vaccinating a young child at age 11 or 12 is by no means permission for that child to be sexually active. It is simply a tool for prevention, best given during that time in a child's life and well before they are likely to become sexually active," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. "Once a person has been infected by HPV, it is too late to prevent it and the secondary diseases that may result."

The HPV vaccine works by preventing the types of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer and genital warts. It is given as a three-dose vaccine, and protection requires all three doses.

Other vaccines recommended for pre-teens include meningococcal vaccine, which protects against bacterial meningitis, and Tdap, which boosts immunity against pertussis (whooping cough). All teens should be protected against Varicella. Plus, everyone six months and older should get an annual flu vaccine.

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Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.