Harlingen Planned Parenthood to give free HPV vaccines

Planned Parenthood is hosting a Clinica Festival sidewalk health fair on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in Harlingen at 712 N 77 Sunshine Strip, Suite 18.

Free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines will be available at the sidewalk health fair.

Additionally, there will be free school supplies, food, games and back-to-school giveaways.

According to Planned Parenthood personnel, the event is part of a campaign to combat a disproportionately high rate of cervical cancer in the Valley.

“In the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo regions, the cervical cancer death rate is approximately 30 percent higher than the rest of the state, largely due to lack of access to health care,” a press release states. “Planned Parenthood wants to reduce this disparity.”

According to the press release, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in Texas women ages 20 to 39, and women along the border are disproportionately affected.

In addition to cervical cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also approved HPV vaccines to prevent vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers, as well as genital warts, the press release states.

Planned Parenthood personnel say the vaccine also protects against cancers in the throat and back of the mouth.

For the rest of the year, Planned Parenthood health centers in Brownsville and Harlingen are providing HPV free vaccines to people ages 9 to 45.

Depending on the patient’s age, two or three shots will be needed, the press release states.

According to the press release, the American Cancer Society states that Texas ranks 41st out of 50 states for HPV vaccine rates among adolescents ages 13 to 17. As of 2019, only about 48 percent of kids have received the vaccine.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused HPV vaccinations to drop more than 20 percent nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the press release states.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for the HPV vaccine, call Planned Parenthood at (800) 230-7526.