New York State Health Organizations urge schools to do more for HPV cancer prevention

Local News
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Sixteen health care organizations across New York State have issued a report titled “NYS HPV Vaccination Guide For School-Based Health Centers” urging school-based health centers (SBHC) to implement HPV vaccination as part of standard care and providing recommendations on how to do so.

The NYS HPV Coalition, which includes the American Cancer Society and American Academy of Pediatrics – Chapter 1 in partnership with the New York School-Based Health Alliance, will distribute the report to 255 SBHCs on June 20.

The expected outcome of releasing the new guide is that at least 30 SBHCs in the state will implement the recommended strategies to increase HPV vaccination. A survey will be administered to assess changes to SBHCs over the next 18 months and to track any increases in their HPV vaccination rates as a result of using the guide.

It is estimated that nearly 375,000 adolescents in New York have not been vaccinated against HPV placing them at increased future risk for six different types of HPV-related cancer. SBHCs serve 180,520 students statewide.

The report details the importance of HPV vaccination for cancer prevention and the current burden of HPV and HPV-related cancers. 

There are 79 million new cases of HPV annually in the United States, and HPV is responsible or a combined 30,700 cases of cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States each year.  HPV causes virtually all cervical cancers, 90 percent of anal cancers, about 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancers, and 60-70 percent of vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancers.

“The HPV vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2006, but today less than 54 percent of eligible adolescents are being vaccinated in New York,” says Michael Seserman, Manager of State Health and Primary Care Systems for the American Cancer Society and Co-Chair of the NYS HPV Coalition. “The goal of the NYS HPV Coalition is to increase HPV vaccination completion rates to 80 percent among 13 to 17-year-old adolescents in New York by 2023. It’s an ambitious goal, but we need to do more to protect our children from cancer.”

If effectively implemented, parents of students who receive care at school-based health centers can expect:

  • Calls and postcards from SBHC’s reminding parents about HPV vaccination when their child is recommended to receive the vaccine (age 11-12).
  • Electronic reminders, including text messages and emails, about missed vaccinations.
  • Educational materials about HPV vaccination and cancer prevention.
  • School-wide campaigns encouraging HPV vaccination.
  • And, in some cases, integration of Beneath the surFACE into secondary school curricula – an educational program focused on head and neck cancer causes, prevention, and minimizing risk factors through smart lifestyle choices.

“Our hope is that, come fall 2019, healthcare professionals in every school-based health center in New York will not only be recommending the HPV vaccine for students ages 11 to 12, but doing so using effective, evidence-based strategies,” says Sarah Murphy, Executive Director of the School-Based Health Alliance.

HPV vaccination is recommended for both girls and boys between the ages 11 to 12. If children are vaccinated within this target age range, two shots are needed six months apart. Three shots are needed for people 15 years and older. For more information about HPV vaccination, visit https://www.cancer.org/healthy/hpv-vaccine.html.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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