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For Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, here’s how to protect yourself

Published: Jan. 9, 2021 at 11:27 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Covid vaccines aren’t the only vaccines health professionals are encouraging you to get.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. This kind of cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus - also known as HPV.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department’s Director of Clinical Services Rebecca Eaton said this cancer is a preventable one.

The steps you can take to protect yourself are getting vaccinated with Gardasil 9 and getting a pap smear every three to five years. The vaccine is given in a series of three shots and isn’t just for women because of HPV’s links to throat cancer.

Eaton recommends getting the vaccine between the ages of nine and 47, but first, it’s time to dispel a myth.

“In the beginning, people were afraid that if they were to let their children have the Gardasil, that it would encourage sexual activity. It does not. It’s just the same thing as getting the MMR. It is a vaccine that is needed...,” Eaton said.

She added that health insurance should cover the vaccine if you are younger than 25, but if you are older, it depends on your insurance.

Still, Merck, the company that makes the vaccine, has a public assistance program you may qualify for if you can’t afford it.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department can sign the form involved for you, if you don’t have a primary care provider.

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