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What’s new with the HPV vaccine?

You may have heard that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved a 2-dose HPV vaccination series, a change from the previous 3-dose series. This recommendation was immediately adopted by the Centers for Disease Control, meaning the 2-dose series is now the official recommendation nationally.
This news is especially exciting because Washington State has struggled to bring up our HPV vaccination rates, and eliminating the third dose should greatly improve our overall rate of teens fully protected from HPV. Though there are some details that health care providers need to be aware of, if an adolescent starts/started the series before age 15, and it has been at least five months since the first does for those who already started the series, they’re good to go with two doses.
The exciting implication of this change is that it makes everything simpler. Adolescents, who do not typically have routine primary care appointments as often as younger kids, will have to schedule one less visit to their health care provider—meaning parents won’t have the hassle associated with a provider visit, either. Adolescents particularly don’t love shots, so poking them one less time is appealing for all involved as well! The costs of time away from work and school, transportation, etc. will also be reduced. We’re also optimistic that the chance to be fully protected by only two doses will motivate more parents to have their children immunized at the recommended age, 11-12, rather than waiting until they’re older, when their immune response may not be as robust and they run a higher risk of already being exposed to HPV.
Why, you might ask, are we making the transition to a 2-dose series? Well…
  • Evidence shows that adolescents mount a particularly strong immune response to the HPV vaccine if it’s given early. After age 15, the response begins to be weaken, so 3 doses are still needed for those ages 15-26.
  • Previously, we only had robust research on a 3-dose series, but new evidence evaluating 2 doses is available and indicates long-lasting protection when it’s received through age 14. Two doses will protect younger adolescents just as much as three doses will protect older adolescents.

We encourage you, immunizer or otherwise, to spread the word about this change. We know that the clinical community will hear about this change via the usual channels, but word trickles down to kids themselves less quickly, so be a part of spreading the message! And remember, the most important talking point is that HPV prevents several cancers in both men and women—a cancer-preventing vaccine is one of the greatest gifts we can give to today’s adolescents.

Vaccines for children through 18 years old are free in Washington State, including the HPV vaccine. To find a health care provider, visit ParentHelp123.org or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

Tags: Cancer Prevention   HPV vaccine   immunizations   ParentHelp123   Washington state   

A Cancer-Preventing Vaccine!

If you could give your child a vaccine to prevent cancer, would you? That’s exactly what HPV vaccine does, yet uptake of HPV vaccine is distressingly low in the United States. While Washington does slightly better than the national average, completion of the HPV series (3 doses of vaccine) in girls in our state stands at just 43.5%. To put this in perspective at the national level, for each year that we do not achieve 80% coverage for the vaccine (The U.S. is currently around 30%), 4,400 girls will get cervical cancer and 1,400 of them will die from cancer—this despite the fact that we have an HPV vaccine.
This is why WithinReach is excited to be partnering with the American Academy of Pediatrics to disseminate the CDC’s You Are the Key to Cancer Prevention communication toolkit. HPV stands for human papillomavirus, a virus that almost all unvaccinated individuals will get in their lifetimes because it spreads so easily. HPV can cause several types of cancer, including oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers and genital cancers in both men and women. By preventing infection with the most carcinogenic strains of HPV virus, the HPV vaccine has the power to prevent these cancers. According to the CDC, “Low HPV vaccination rates are leaving another generation of boys and girls vulnerable to devastating HPV cancers. Vaccination could prevent most of these cancers.”
In the coming months, WithinReach will be educating providers throughout the state about HPV communication through Grand Rounds presentations at local hospitals. We will be sharing HPV statistics and the latest communication science with providers. With new tools like the CDC’s You Are the Key to Cancer Prevention toolkit that we’re disseminating, WithinReach is proud to be supporting an effort that will hopefully increase immunization rates and decrease the number of young people in our state who will get cancer.
Health communication is one of the most challenging topics we health researchers face…and yet the beauty of science is that it allows us to finesse our approach to meet the public’s needs. We have evolved our approach to HPV prevention to focus on cancer prevention. Not incidentally, this is the reason our immunization work always draws from an evidence base of sound science.
If you are interested in learning more, please join us on the morning of August 21st at Seattle Children’s Hospital. You can also gather more information at the parenthelp123.org website. Furthermore, WithinReach intends to stay focused on HPV long after this grant ends, so stay tuned for future developments! And remember, girls and boys should be immunized against HPV…both spread the disease and both can fall victim to associated cancers.

Tags: Cancer Prevention   CDC   HPV   immunizations   ParentHelp123   vaccines   Washington state   

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