Dubois County health officials push for HPV vaccine

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DUBOIS COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) — As COVID-19 vaccinations continue at full speed, another vaccination effort is underway in Dubois County. 

“When it comes to vaccines, people have a mindset,” explained Dubois County Health Department Vaccine Coordinator and Nurse Sue Willaims. “When they come to the health department many of us here really want to connect with our people, because they are going to be coming back for repeat visits and they won’t come back if they don’t feel comfortable the first time.” 

Four years ago, Dubois County health officials partnered with the American Cancer Society to bring Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV) awareness to the community. 

“Since then we have boosted our numbers to around I think 40 percent of the population has now received the vaccine,” said Dubois County Health Department Administrative Director Shawn Werner. “We are targeting 11 to 12 year olds, but it’s also available for 9 to 26 years olds as well.”

The goal of HPV vaccinations include reducing cancer rates and increasing education. Even amid a pandemic and increased vaccinations for COVID-19, health officials say prevention of HPV related cancers remains a public health priority. 

“We want cures and we want prevention of disease, that’s the number one thing the health department does, as well as to promote health and  prevent disease,” Williams said. “People want cures for cancer and we have one through HPV.”

Officials say now is not the time to skip vaccinations, especially for children.

“People that are nervous about the HPV vaccine, I can explain all that to the mother and say I understand exactly where you are, and if I didn’t feel this vaccine was safe I wouldn’t give this to my daughters and my grandchildren, I’m two generations now offering this,” Williams said. “I have seen the effect it’s had with preventing those cancers and mothers that have gone through that infection are very pro for their daughters and sons when they come in too.”

There are several reasons people do not want their children to get the HPV vaccine including fears it may promote promiscuity and the fact some vaccines use human fetal cells for production.

“We really strive to make sure people understand the truth about HPV,” said Williams. “You just keep trying to live what you believe whatever it’s going to be and if that’s getting vaccines or not getting vaccines we’re just always wanting to promote the greater good, for our families and for our community. So who would not want to protect their children against cancer? “

The health department will also offer school-based vaccination clinics starting in March.

(This story was originally published on February 8, 2021)

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