A Personal HPV Story: Former Senator Norm Coleman

CDC now recommends 11 year olds get 2 doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV

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Former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman is sharing a message of strength and awareness during his second battle with cancer, reported CBS Minnesota.

Three and a half years ago Coleman underwent chemo, radiation, and surgery to kill the cancer in his tonsil and neck. 

Coleman is now fighting stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, receiving treatment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester five days a week for five weeks. 

“The cancer I have is caused by a virus,” Coleman said. “You can get a vaccination to prevent you from getting the HPV virus today.” 

He said his cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus virus (HPV) and is encouraging people to look into the vaccine that can help prevent it. 

HPV is a virus that is best known as a sexually-transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer in women. But HPV can also cause throat and neck cancers, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Since approximately 14 million Americans become infected with HPV each year, this issue impacts a vast segment of society, says the CDC. 

The former senator has become an advocate for the HPV vaccine, which thrills Allina Health’s infectious disease specialist Dr. Frank Rhame.   

“That’s a wonderful opportunity Senator Coleman is giving us because he’s pointing out head and neck cancers are preventable by this vaccine, too, which are not associated with sexual intercourse,” Dr. Rhame said. 

Dr. Rhame is frustrated more people don’t get the HPV vaccine. 

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“We’ve got a vaccine that prevents cancer and only half the people who need it, get it,” Dr. Rhame said. 

And the HPV vaccine is now recommended for more people. 

On October 5, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine for people between 9 and 45 years of age, and for both genders. 

"Preventing cancer with a vaccine is a dream come true as a healthcare provider. Even more people can benefit from this life-saving therapy,”  said Michelle Beall Pharm.D. Clinical Pharmacist, MTM and Immunization Specialist for Brookshire Grocery Company. 

“I highly encourage anyone from 9 to 45 years of age to ask their pharmacist about receiving this vaccine. Protect yourself and protect your loved ones, “ continued Beall. 

To easily schedule an HPV vaccination appointment, please visit this page.   

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides HPV vaccine prices for general information. 

And vaccine discounts can be found here.  

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.