​Dr. Christopher Kjolhede, pediatrician and co-director of Bassett Healthcare Network’s School-Based Health Program, was recently featured in a piece published by the Utica Observer-Dispatch (later published in the Elmira Star Gazette) about the importance of childhood HPV vaccination. The shots, recommended for kids ages 11 and 12, can protect against a group of human papillomaviruses that cause six kinds of cancer. HPV vaccination is available to a person until age 26, but it’s most effective if given before the person becomes sexually active.

The vaccine has been met with pushback from some parents who believe that kids getting vaccinated encourages sexual activity. “These kinds of arguments seem to be dying down and vaccination rates are going up nicely,” says Dr. Kjolhede. “[But] then I think HPV got wrapped up in all the COVID controversy. So we haven’t been doing as well recently in getting patients [and their parents] to listen.” Bassett’s School-Based Health Program and pediatricians around the state are working to increase immunization rates among teens and pre-teens.

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May 17, 2022