By Isabel Stock, Colorado State University
Oregon Immunization Program Intern
The idea immunizing your child to prevent a sexually transmitted infection may seem foreign to many parents. People across the world have different views regarding vaccination, but all can agree on cancer prevention. It is our duty as public health advocators, medical professionals and community stakeholders to promote the importance of the HPV vaccination. Here are some astounding numbers to show the impact Human Papilloma Virus has compared to other diseases that we commonly vaccinate children for:
- 1,904 polio deaths in the U.S. in 1950 (near the height of the epidemic)
- 450 measles deaths every year in the U.S. before the vaccine
- 500 tetanus deaths every year before widespread use of the vaccine in the U.S.
- 100 chickenpox deaths every year in the U.S. before introduction of the vaccine
- 4,000 HPV-related cervical cancer deaths in the U.S. every year
With 12,000 women being diagnosed every year with cervical cancer, it’s noteworthy that 1 in 3 of them do not survive for five years, especially when the HPV vaccination and screening can prevent up to 93% of these cancers. Other than the cervix, HPV is associated with cancer of the anus, vulva, vagina, oropharynx and cervix in women and HPV related cancers in men are found in the anus, oropharynx and penis.
With 79 million people in the U.S. currently infected with HPV, 14 million new infections every year, the National Cancer Institute has released a Call to Action. In the U.S. 40% of females and 21% of males are receiving all three doses of the HPV vaccine. In Oregon, 36.4% of females and 20.6% of males are receiving all three doses of the HPV vaccine. It is clear that the U.S. will fail to meet the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80% HPV vaccination rate for all three doses. We are faced with a significant public health threat if we don’t take immediate action to improving our vaccination rates.
Here are the best ways to begin improving HPV rates in your clinic today:
- Know how to frame your conversation regarding HPV with parents and provide them with educational resources
- Start the vaccine on time; schedule wellness visits at age 11 and 12
- Schedule follow-up visits before they leave the office
- Practice reminder/recall for 2nd and 3rd doses
- Provide walk-in or immunization only visits
- Immunize at sports physicals
For more information on how to implement these actions, go to: https://public.health.oregon.gov/PreventionWellness/VaccinesImmunization/ImmunizationProviderResources/vfc/Documents/AFIXQIActionSteps.pdf