On June 8, 2006, the FDA approved a cancer prevention vaccine that helps protect against six types of cancer related to human papillomavirus (HPV). But 12 years later, Texas ranks 47th out of 50 states for HPV vaccination rates among children ages 13 to 17, with only 33 percent of kids receiving this vaccine. In fact, Texas represents the single largest opportunity in the country to raise HPV vaccine rates.
This summer, the American Cancer Society launched Mission: HPV Cancer Free, a public health campaign to eliminate vaccine-preventable HPV cancers, starting with cervical cancer. The goal is to reach an annual vaccination rate of 80 percent of 13-year-olds in the United States by 2026. If all 11- and 12-year-olds were vaccinated, an estimated 90 percent of HPV cancers could be prevented, amounting to more than 29,000 fewer cancers per year.
A physician recommendation is the single most persuasive reason children get vaccinated, with recent studies showing that a patient who receives a provider recommendation is four to five times more likely to receive the HPV vaccine. To increase the effectiveness of a recommendation, consider the following:
- Recommend the HPV vaccine for all boys and girls at 11 or 12 years of age the same day and same way you recommend other vaccines.
- For example, try to say, “Your child needs three vaccines today: Tdap, HPV and meningococcal” or “Today your child should have three vaccines. They’re designed to protect him or her from the cancers caused by HPV, meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.”
We all have a vested interest in fighting for a world that is free from cancer, but now is the time to make a renewed effort to increase HPV vaccination rates.