January is Cervical Health Awareness Month in Michigan
As January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, women are encouraged to prevent and detect cervical cancer by getting the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and a Pap test.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan Association for Local Public Health (MALPH) and Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) are joining together to support the HPV vaccination and Pap test as they are the best forms of defense against cervical cancer. In 2013, 341 Michigan women were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer, and in 2014, 107 Michigan women died from this disease.
"HPV vaccination is truly a life-saver in that it can prevent over 80 percent of all cervical cancer cases in the United States," says Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS. "The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and produces better immunity when given at the recommended age of 11-12 years. However it can be given through age 26. Not only does it prevent cervical cancer in women, it also prevents other cancers in both women and men."
In Michigan, as of January 2017, only 33.5 percent of females and 25.8 percent of males had received the complete HPV vaccine series.
"Far too many people die each year from cervical cancer that could have been prevented by the HPV vaccine, and that's totally unacceptable," says Dr. David Krhovsky, president of the Michigan State Medical Society. "The medical community needs to continue to do everything it can to make the general public aware of the risks associated with skipping vaccines and other preventative screening measures. Raising awareness is really the only effective way to combat this serious public health problem."
The Pap test -- a simple, affordable, and easy-to-administer screening test to detect cervical cancer -- is widely available. Still, more than half of cervical cancer deaths are seen in women who have either never had a Pap test, or have not had testing in more than five years.
"You can help protect your child from many different cancers by making sure they get the HPV vaccine," said Kathy Forzley, health officer with the Oakland County Health Division and president of the MALPH Executive Committee. "Adolescents can routinely receive the HPV vaccine at the same visits where they get their meningitis and tetanus vaccines."
Screening for cervical cancer with the Pap test is recommended to begin at age 21. Many women's preventive health care services -- such as screenings for cervical cancer, mammograms, prenatal care, immunizations, and other services -- is now covered without co-pays. Pap tests are available at local health departments and many community-based clinics, and for women ages 40-64, Pap testing is offered through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program (BCCCNP). For more information, call the BCCCNP at 1-844-I-GOT-SCR (446-8727).
Vaccines for Children (VFC), Medicaid, and most health insurances pay for the HPV vaccine. If your child does not have health insurance, or does not have insurance that covers these vaccines, ask your health care provider or local health department about the VFC program. VFC provides no-or-low cost vaccines to eligible children, 18 years of age and younger. Some adults are eligible to receive HPV vaccine at a local health department or federally qualified health center if they have no insurance or insurance that doesn't cover any of the cost of vaccine.
For more HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening information, talk with your health care provider and visit www.michigan.gov/hpv or www.michigan.gov/cancer. More information about other vaccines adolescents and adults may need may be found at www.michigan.gov/immunize or www.cdc.gov/vaccines.