BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Roswell Park is trying to remind people that getting the HPV vaccine can be just as important.
"Even prior to COVID, HPV vaccination rates were still lagging," Dr. Elisa Rodriguez, Director of Community Engagement Resource at Roswell Park, said, "Compound that with a pandemic and we have seen rates go even lower."
Dr. Rodriguez says children with public insurance missed 1 million recommended doses of the HPV vaccine since March 2020. She blames the pandemic, and says that's a big problem when the HPV vaccine protects against a virus that causes several types of cancer.
"What parent doesn't want to protect their child from cancer?" Dr. Rodriguez said.
Getting the HPV vaccine back into the minds of the public starts with awareness. Roswell Park believes that it is up to the doctors to stress it.
"Recommend that vaccine just as much as you do any other adolescent vaccines."
Roswell Park is a member of the NYS HPV Vaccine Coalition, early in the pandemic the coalition saw HPV vaccination rates among adolescents fall by 75%. Mostly in non-urban and suburban areas.
They're hoping these target areas and the rest of Western New York can get the vaccines as soon as possible, and Roswell hopes the start of the school year is a good jump start for it.
"Back to school is a major opportunity, kids come in and they have other required mandated vaccines that they need to get," Dr. Rodriguez said.
For more information on the HPV vaccine, visit the National HPV Roundtable here, or one of the published works from Dr. Rodriguez at the links below: