Cavalier County Health District receives grant for cancer vaccine

Cavalier County Health District has received a substantial grant from the North Dakota Department of Health Comprehensive Cancer Control Program in the amount of $7,000. 

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Posted on 9/26/15

By Melissa Anderson

The funds will be used to implement policy, systems and environmental strategies to reduce cancer rates in Cavalier County through increased HPV vaccination of county youth.

Grant funding will be used to provide immunization clinics in the schools. Also, additional recommended and required vaccines that are indicated for a student will be offered at immunization clinics.

“Parents will receive a mailing from the public health office regarding vaccines their student may be eligible for,” Terri Gustafson, a registered nurse with Cavalier County Health District, said.

Currently, the HPV immunization rates for 12-year-olds in Cavalier County are high with 75 percent of eligible students having started or completed the HPV vaccine series. That rate drops to 48 percent in the 13-17 year-olds age range.

“This is most likely due to the HPV vaccine being offered at middle school clinics the past two years,” Gustafson stated.

This vaccine is for protection from most of the cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.  HPV is a very common virus that spreads between people when they have sexual contact with another person. About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV every year. HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer in men. HPV can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer, and genital warts in both men and women.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls at the age of 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine also produces a higher immune response in preteens than in older adolescents.

There are two HPV vaccines. Girls and young women should get either one of the HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer.  One of the HPV vaccines also protects against genital warts and anal cancer in both females and males. Males should get this particular HPV vaccine to prevent anal cancer and genital warts. Females can get this vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, anal cancer, and genital warts.

Both HPV vaccines have been studied very carefully and the studies showed no serious safety concerns. The side effects were considered common and mild during the studies and included pain in the arm where the shot was given, fever, dizziness, and nausea.

Some preteens and teens might faint after getting the HPV vaccine or any shot for that matter. Precautions are taken by having the preteen or teen sit or lie down when they get the shot and remain in that position for 15 minutes after receiving the shot. This measure helps to prevent fainting and any injury that could happen while fainting.

The HPV vaccine is given in three shots. The second shot is given one or two months after the first shot. Then the third is given six months after the first shot.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in North Dakota.  Projects such as Cavalier County Health District’s HPV vaccination campaign are vital to prevent cancer, save lives and/or improve the quality of lives of North Dakotans.

“We all want to see our youth protected from cancer.  HPV vaccination has been shown to reduce the rates of HPV related cancers in both girls and boys making this project a real asset in reducing the rates of cancer for Cavalier County youth,” said Terri Gustafson. “Together, we will make the vision of a cancer-free North Dakota a reality.”

Cost of the vaccine will be covered by the ND State Health Department. The administration fee of $29 will be billed to insurance. The administration fee is waived for individuals with no health insurance.

Cavalier County Health District provides routine recommended and required vaccines for children and adults. For more information on public health services, go to For more information on the HPV vaccine, please contact Terri Gustafson, RN, Cavalier County Health District at

Information on the HPV vaccine provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.