Tuesday, 07 March 2023 15:19

Cancer Prevention in Action Applauds Local Pediatricians as Champions

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Above are Dr. Nimeh and Laurie Kimball, LPN. Above are Dr. Nimeh and Laurie Kimball, LPN. Submitted photo

Vaccines have proven to greatly reduce and even eradicate many diseases and medical maladies.

Misinformation, however, and a lack of understanding the benefits of vaccines may make people hesitant to receive preventative vaccinations. One of those is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for virtually all cases of cervical cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, the association between cervical cancer and HPV is irrefutable. HPV can also cause several other types of cancer, including oral, vaginal, vulvar, anal, and penile cancers.

Luckily, there is a vaccine that helps protect against HPV infection and associated cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, studies have shown that the HPV vaccine provides close to 100% protection against infections and pre-cancers caused by certain types of HPV. Administering the vaccine to boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 12 years old can prevent more than 90% of HPV cancers when they get older.

While the HPV vaccine is known to effectively prevent those types of cancer, some are hesitant to have their children vaccinated. Thanks to the efforts of practicing Pediatricians at ConnextCare Joseph Nimeh, M.D. -Oswego and Megan Pecha, M.D. Pulaski, more Oswego County residents are understanding the need for, and the benefits of, the HPV vaccine. “They are true champions in Oswego County,” says Carolyn Handville, Program Manager of Cancer Prevention in Action (CPiA).

“The HPV vaccine is a safe and readily available preventative health measure for children that has a realistic chance of preventing cancer in the future” asserts Dr. Nimeh. “Already, there are studies demonstrating decreased rates of cervical cancer in those having received this vaccine as recommended. Sharing this data, as well as all the abundant safety data about this vaccine, allows people to learn about the significant benefits of this vaccine and that it is extremely unlikely to cause any significant harm. I also share that, based on my thorough research and understanding of the risks and benefits of the vaccine, I will not hesitate to give this vaccine to my own children when they are of age to receive it.”

Despite the known safety profile, some parents and guardians are resistant against the vaccine, with some citing safety as their main concern. “HPV vaccines are licensed by the food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has approved this immunization as both safe and effective,” states Dr. Pecha. “The HPV vaccine has been studied in thousands of people and administered to tens of millions of people with serious adverse side effects reported in less than 0.1 percent of those receiving it.”

Dr. Nimeh adds, “I’ve found that most often these concerns are based in fear, not based on the evidence that is available about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine. I suggest that those who are reluctant to have their children immunized read the literature that is available. There is abundant data about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine, and there is growing evidence that those receiving it have significantly reduced rates of cancers that are caused by this virus. Also, it is extremely important to realize that the vaccine is ineffective after someone is infected with HPV, and the benefits of the vaccine, including reduced risk of cancer, are lost after the patient is infected. Therefore, I strongly encourage families to become as educated as possible regarding the HPV vaccine and consider administration as soon as their child is of age to receive it.”

The HPV vaccine is approved and recommended for males and females ages 9-26. For adolescents aged 9-14, it is a two-dose series given six months apart. For those who receive the first dose on or after their 15th birthday should receive three doses of vaccine (0, 1-2 months, and 6 months after the initial dose). The protection provided by HPV vaccines lasts a long time. “This vaccine series typically provides coverage against HPV infection for at least 10 years and often longer than that,” said Dr. Nimeh. “No additional doses are recommended at this time if the series is administered as recommended with the proper interval between doses.”

“Dr. Nimeh and Dr. Pecha have done a wonderful job championing the effort to increase acceptance of the HPV vaccine,” emphasizes Handville. “Their work has helped protect hundreds of children from the possibility of pre-cancerous infections. We recognize them for their commitment to the health of their patients and the overall health of Oswego County.” Dr. Nimeh and Dr. Pecha both serve as supervising physicians for ConnextCare’s seven School Based Health Centers located in the districts of Altmar Parish and Williamstown, Mexico, Pulaski and Sandy Creek.

OCO is a subcontractor of the St. Lawrence Health Initiative to deliver the Cancer Prevention in Action grant locally in Oswego County. To learn more about the Cancer Prevention in Action program, which is supported with funds from the state of New York, please visit https://takeactionagainstcancer.com/

For more information on the HPV vaccine, contact your primary care provider or your local pharmacist.

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