NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As students get ready to head back to school, vaccines are top of mind for many parents. At yearly back to school checkups, doctors often recommend children receive routine summertime vaccinations like Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) and meningococcal… but parents may also hear their child’s doctor recommending the HPV Vaccine.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, impacting 8 out of 10 people. HPV infections can also lead to different types of cancer later in life.

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But the American Cancer Society has found the HPV vaccine can prevent more than 90% of those HPV-related cancers, when the vaccination is given to children at the recommended age.

Unfortunately, the American Cancer Society says HPV vaccination rates among adolescents have fallen by 75% during the pandemic. A statistic that Jeff Fehlis, Executive Vice President of the American Cancer Society’s South Region, says could put children at serious risk later in life.

“Each year, 35,000 men and women are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV,” Fehlis says. “But this is a shot that can prevent cancer, and we don’t get to say that very often.”

“If we can get enough of that population, those children, vaccinated, we may be even able to eradicate some of the HPV-related cancers like cervical cancer.”

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The significant decrease in children getting the HPV vaccine has parents like Patrick Makarewhich concerned.

He is an HPV related cancer survivor, who underwent a major battle with throat and neck cancer. He is also the father of two boys and made the decision to get his children vaccinated against HPV so that their future would not be filled with the same cancer treatments that he had to endure.

“The process of being treated for cancer is grueling, and so anything you can do to help your children avoid that in the future is well worth the time and the investment,” Makarewhich says.

The American Cancer Society’s research has found the vaccine works best when given to kids between the ages of 9 and 12.

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Parents are advised to talk with their child’s doctor to see if the vaccine is something they should consider.

Madison Sawyer