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HPV vaccine

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   

HPV Prevention in High School: A Guest Blog

Nathan Hale High School students Claire Furtick and Paul Tamura have been promoting the HPV vaccine in their school for the past couple of years. After being widely recognized and awarded for their efforts, we thought we’d feature them–in their own words–on our blog. 

Paul and Claire are juniors at Nathan Hale. Paul initially got involved when his mom asked him if he would support her in a public health panel sponsored by the Group Health Foundation, which focused on HPV awareness. Paul recruited Claire for the effort too, and their remarks were so well-received that after the panel discussion they were approached by public health nurse Lauren Greenfield from Public Health–Seattle & King County about an HPV campaign to be launched at six Seattle public schools, including Nathan Hale. Their history with this brilliant project is detailed below. Enjoy! -Todd

When we both agreed to be a part of this campaign (to spread awareness about the importance of HPV vaccine at Nathan Hale and get students immunized at the teen health center), we had no idea what to expect. But despite that, we both said yes for the same reason: we realized that this campaign was a way for us to help and have a positive impact on our community. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) cancers and disease have affected the lives of many people and will continue to if nothing is done, and if immunization rates in our state remain low. People have been looking for a cure for cancer for a long time, and the thought of finding one seems impossible. But what people don’t realize is we have something even better than that. We have a way to PREVENT cancer. And it’s right at our fingertips. The HPV vaccine is of great importance because it has the ability to save thousands of lives from future cancers. And our job is to make sure that people, especially our peers, understand this.

When we started the campaign, there was no plan to work off of, no template or outline of what we were supposed to do. We were basically winging it. At our first meeting with our advisor, she asked us, “What are your ideas? What do you guys want to do?” This was one of the best features of the opportunity; it was up to us to come up with ideas on how to run a successful campaign, and it was our ideas that mattered the most. This campaign taught us many important skills, including leadership organizational skills. Running into many obstacles, we’ve learned to be persistent in our goals. The biggest challenge, though, was always juggling this on top of schoolwork, sports, and other activities we do outside of school—especially since it was just the two of us.

As for the future of the campaign, we have high hopes and many plans. We plan to continue running the campaign at Nathan Hale, and this year hope to create an HPV Awareness Club at our school. The club will not only educate people on the topic, but also the group can help with certain projects throughout the year that are part of the campaign. We also hope to get speaking time at an assembly this year, and maybe do a schoolwide HPV awareness week. And of course, our goal every year is that more and more people at our school get vaccinated. Finally, as a more widespread goal, we hope students at other schools around the state take on the challenge that we have and raise awareness about HPV, and the vaccine that prevents certain HPV cancers and disease, at their schools.

It’s wonderful to see young people getting involved and speaking up for the health of their peers. Many thanks to Paul and Claire for their great work!

Tags: HPV   HPV vaccine   immunizations   Nathan Hale High School   Public Health   vaccines   

Partnering to prevent HPV

WithinReach has teamed up with the Group Health Foundation (GHF) for many years, but we recently began an exciting new partnership surrounding human papilloma virus (HPV) initiatives in Washington State. This partnership, which shows visionary donor practices from GHF, funds WithinReach to be a connection point for all 16 of the Foundation’s HPV grants in the State.  Recognizing the abysmal rate of HPV vaccine series completion (44% of females and 25% of adolescent males have completed the 3-dose series in Washington State), many organizations are working hard to bring up rates across the state—a lifesaving initiative that we are thrilled to support.

Using the extensive immunization network of WithinReach, our cutting-edge work surrounding HPV promotion, and our depth of knowledge in vaccine hesitancy issues, WithinReach staff review all funded proposals with an eye towards:

  • Connecting grantees to existing resources that will further their projects
  • Eliminating duplication of efforts
  • Creating partnerships between organizations with aligned goals
  • Encouraging organizations to attend our HPV Task Force or other immunization committees in the state

When WithinReach launched the HPV Task Force in 2015, we learned that many organizations were developing HPV initiatives, but there had been little communication between organizations, largely because there was no venue to do so and because HPV vaccination brings together organizations from seemingly disparate fields: immunization, cancer prevention, sexual health, and adolescent medicine to name a few. Having the HPV Task Force–and now the assurance that these organizations are collaborating–will make Washington a leader in HPV vaccination.

Here’s an example of an early success: Planned Parenthood wanted to pioneer an electronic signature process to easily obtain permission from parents to give their children the HPV vaccine.  WithinReach has long known that Public Health – Seattle & King County successfully uses a service called DocuSign for this very purpose. By putting the two organizations in contact, Planned Parenthood was able to mobilize quickly and follow an existing blueprint to make this service available.  Another success? All GHF grant-funded organizations are routinely meeting as a group outside of the HPV Task Force because they have found informal conversations about sharing resources and ideas helpful and productive.

And if you need a reminder of why the HPV vaccine is important, here are the pertinent details: All cases of cervical cancer, and a large percentage of other genital and anal cancers/warts and oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers are caused by the HPV. The latest HPV vaccine protects girls from 90% of the strains that cause cervical cancer. Cervical cancer takes the lives of over 4,000 American women annually, and inflicts untold sickness and suffering on many more. The vaccine can virtually eliminate morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer.

WithinReach has been working with community partners for over 25 years to not just address health issues facing our community, but to actually create lasting change.  Partnerships like this one with the Group Health Foundation are essential to that goal.

Tags: Group Health Foundation   HPV   HPV vaccine   immunizations   Public Health   Washington state   

Immunization Program: 2015 Reflections & 2016 Opportunities

2015 was a very good year for the Immunization Program at WithinReach.  In our efforts to promote immunization across the lifespan, our program grew substantially and we widened our scope of work.  We have forged dozens of new relationships and our statewide reach and collaboration is particularly strong.
As we enter 2016, I’d like to first call out a few of our greatest successes from 2015:

  • We welcomed Jessica Broz, Immunization Coordinator, to our team.  Jessica has been a wonderful addition, supporting all of the work we do with skill and a thoughtful approach.
  • The Pink Book Conference, which the Immunization Team hosted in September, was a sold-out event that brought together 450+ colleagues from around the state to learn, network, and strengthen relationships.
  • The Immunity Community, our program that engages parents as immunization-positive advocates in the spaces where their children spend time, expanded into a truly statewide program, with active communities in Spokane, Thurston, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Whatcom Counties.
  • We developed an HPV educational webinar for healthcare providers.  This webinar shares the latest communication science around vaccines and encourages a strong HPV vaccine recommendation and has been taken by over 700 healthcare providers.
  • WithinReach began hosting the HPV Task Force, a collective of partners statewide that are convening to collaborate on promoting HPV vaccine uptake and series completion.

And in 2016, we look forward to:

  • The continued expansion of the Immunity Community.
  • Re-energizing the Vax Northwest work with healthcare providers, hopefully developing a new research project focused on provider-parent communication.
  • Learning more about what drives parent decision-making about vaccines in Washington State, and where we might best intervene through focus groups across the state.
  • Extending the stellar work of our Spokane Regional Health District partners to provide mobile immunization clinics and other tools to improve immunization record-keeping statewide.
  • Restructuring the Immunization Action Coalition of Washington’s committees to better align with needs in the state.
  • Connecting with current and new partners to promote HPV vaccine uptake.

To the exceptional Immunization Team at WithinReach, thank you for being so proactive and skilled in producing work of an outstanding caliber.  To all of our partners with whom we collaborate on these successes, thank you for your great work independently and with us!

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy New Year!

Tags: Community Health   HPV vaccine   Immunity Community   Immunization Action Coalition of Washington   immunizations   preventable diseases   vaccines   Washington state   WithinReach   

Fighting health inequities, one shot at a time

Did you know that Latina women in the US are over 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than non-Latinas and, once diagnosed, 1.5 times more likely to die from cervical cancer? To us at WithinReach, inequities like this are unacceptable.

Some of the factors that contribute to this inequity include lack of access to quality care, making Latinas less likely to get regular Pap smears, more likely to have more advanced cervical disease when they are screened, and less likely to receive follow-up care after diagnosis. Without a doubt, Latinas need better access to care and better quality of care when they do have access. But to get to one root of the problem, we need to prevent cervical cancer in the first place. Fortunately, we have a very effective way to do so: the HPV vaccine.

That’s why it’s disturbing to us that Latino parents are less likely to report that their provider recommended the HPV vaccine for their child(ren). Among a group of Latino parents in Yakima, 87% said that they would get their daughter vaccinated if their doctor recommended it, but only 46% had actually ever been offered the HPV vaccine!

We’re working to change that through a project offering targeted training to providers and staff in clinics that serve Latino families in western Washington. We talk about why the HPV vaccine is so important, how to make an effective recommendation, and how to have respectful and helpful conversations with parents about it. Luckily, we found a great partner for this work in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Inspired by its Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) launched a Community Health Improvement Grant program to addresses specific cancer screening, early detection, and prevention needs for at risk populations in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Designed to build sustainable collaborations with Washington communities, SCCA selected seven local nonprofit organizations to receive funds in 2015, including WithinReach.

Finally, I can’t end this post without mentioning that the HPV vaccine prevents many different cancers that are caused by the human papillomavirus in both men and women, including cancers of the anus, oropharynx (throat area), and genitals. No one wants those diseases for their children. That’s why it’s important for both boys and girls to be immunized! And for providers out there interested in the latest on HPV immunization recommendations and how to navigate conversations with families, check out our free online CEU course.

 

 

Tags: cervical cancer   HPV   HPV vaccine   immunizations   preventable diseases   Public Health   Seattle Cancer Care Alliance   vaccines   Yakima   

Cervical Health Awareness Month: What You Need to Know!

Yes, there’s a month for everything and January happens to be Cervical Health Awareness month! We wanted to share some good news with you: in a few simple steps, most cervical cancers can be prevented (woo-hoo!). Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your kids.
1.    Get vaccinated against HPV, the virus that causes almost all cervical cancer and genital warts. The vaccine is safe, effective, and prevents cancer in both men and women. It’s recommended for girls ages 11 through 26 and boys ages 11 through 21. Earlier is better: it generates the best immune response in 11-12 year-olds, and is most effective when given well before the onset of sexual activity. Today, far too few adolescents are getting immunized, and as a result, 4,400 girls alive in the U.S. today will get cervical cancer that could have been prevented through immunization. It’s a three-shot series, so make sure that you or your loved one gets all three! If you’ve fallen behind, you don’t need to restart.
2.    Get regular Pap tests. These important screening tests can identify changes in cervical cells before they become cancerous. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends tests every three years for most women starting at age 21, potentially in combination with an HPV test.  Even if you’ve been vaccinated, it’s important to get regular Pap tests – as the vaccine protects against most, but not all, HPV strains that can cause cancer.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurers are required to cover recommended immunizations for everyone and Pap tests for women, without a co-pay. And in Washington State, HPV vaccines (and all other routine childhood vaccines) are free for all children through age eighteen. If you need help finding a healthcare provider or health insurance, visit us online at www.ParentHelp123.org or call our Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
There you have it – two easy and free steps to prevent cervical cancer. That means no more excuses for not taking care of ourselves and our children. Nobody looks forward to getting a shot or a Pap test, but it’s worth it. Instead, you can look forward to many healthy years free of cervical cancer.

Tags: cervical cancer   Cervical health awareness month   HPV vaccine   

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