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Planned Parenthood pushes for youth vaccinations against HPV

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While health officials across the Valley push for COVID-19 vaccinations, one group of medical experts in Harlingen are fighting to get younger people vaccinated against something else. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection that affects millions of Americans every year.

To combat low vaccination rates against HPV, the staff at Planned Parenthood in Harlingen will host the Clinica Festival, an outreach health fair.

"[There are] many factors as to why not many people, especially children, are not vaccinated," Planned Parenthood Lead Patient Navigator Paula Saldana said. "One of them has to do with access to it. Most insurances cover them, but a lot of people here in the Valley don't have health insurance."

The Department of State Health Services reports less than 45% of teenagers have completed the HPV vaccinations series, which can require up to three shots. 

Saldana says misinformation about HPV and the vaccine is one of the main reasons people in the Valley avoid getting it. 

"They think that if they get the vaccine that their children can become sterile," Saldana said. "We've heard people that don't have communication with their children and don't talk to them about sexuality believe that if they get the vaccine, it's like giving them permission to go and be sexually active."

Free HPV vaccines are available for anyone ages 11 through 45 during clinic hours at Planned Parenthood in Harlingen. 

Clinic hours are as follows:

  • Monday - 11:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday - 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday- 8:00 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Thursday- 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 
  • Friday- 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. 
  • Saturday (1st Saturday of the month)

Appointments for the vaccines are preferred. 

For more information, call Planned Parenthood in Harlingen at 956-423-8584.

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