By Kim Polacek, APR, CPRC - March 01, 2021
The HPV vaccine has been approved for the prevention of certain cancers for almost 15 years. However, parents are still reluctant to get their children vaccinated. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that 7.3 million vaccine-eligible teens, age 13 to 17, were unvaccinated in 2017-2018. And despite recommendations from a health care provider, the parents of 60.6% of those adolescents said they had no intention to vaccinate their children.
“Those figures are alarming. We need parents to understand that the HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. If you could prevent your child from having an HPV-related cancer, wouldn’t you do it?” said Dr. Anna Giuliano, founder of the Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center.
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Giuliano knows the important role that health care providers play in increasing HPV vaccine uptake. It is why she and her team organize an annual statewide conference aimed at educating providers about strategies and improvement initiatives to address common barriers to vaccine access and uptake. The event is held on March 4 – International HPV Awareness Day.
“Our conference is an open discussion among health care leaders and providers from across the state of Florida. We know we have the tools to eliminate HPV-related cancers, starting with cervical cancer. HPV vaccination is a critical part of that, but there is more we need to do to accomplish the goal,” said Giuliano.
Last year, Florida became the first state in the nation to include a goal to eliminate cervical cancer, a cancer predominantly caused by HPV, in its five-year cancer plan. It includes a three-prong approach to tackle the public health concern.
- Increase the percentage of adolescents, ages 13 to 17, who are up to date on HPV vaccination to 80%
- Increase the percentage of women, ages 21 to 65, who have had a Pap test and/or HPV test in the past three years to 93% or higher
- Identify and develop a surveillance method that measures the percentage of Florida women who receive appropriate follow-up after an abnormal cervical cancer screening test result.
“Approximately 90% of cancers caused by HPV can be prevented by vaccination. Eliminating cervical cancer is just the beginning,” said Giuliano.
To learn more about HPV vaccination, visit Moffitt.org/HPV