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HPV Cancer Prevention with the American Cancer Society

Two-Dose HPV Vaccination Series Now Recommended for Adolescents

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revised its recommendation for the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination series. For children ages 9 through 14, only two doses instead of three is now recommended; the two shots should be administered at least six months apart. The CDC continues to recommend that most children get the vaccine at age 11 or 12 to protect against cancer-causing HPV infections when their immune response is best. Debbie Saslow, PhD, Senior Director of HPV Related and Women’s Cancers at the American Cancer Society, said the new recommendation will make it easier for people to get protection from HPV. 

“It’s a burden on parents to get teenagers to the provider’s office. The new recommendations not only cut down on repeated trips, but also spread out the recommended interval. This adds the flexibility that allows the second injection to be given at a time when the child may already be at the provider’s office for something else – an annual checkup, a sports physical, or even an acute visit like a strep test,” she said.

Why vaccinate?

Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV, and the virus has been linked to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, tongue, and throat. HPV is also a major cause of genital warts. Vaccines are among the few medical interventions capable of achieving almost complete eradication of a disease. It is not often that we have an opportunity to prevent cancer, or in this case multiple cancers, with a single tool. Despite the overwhelming evidence for its safety and effectiveness, HPV vaccination is underutilized. While vaccination rates continue to improve for other adolescent vaccines such as Tdap and meningococcal, HPV vaccination rates have not.  Only 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys in the U.S. are fully vaccinated – far less than the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent.

Improve Your HPV Vaccination Rates

The American Cancer Society is looking for immunization clinic champions within Federally Qualified Health Centers to be involved in HPV VACs (Vaccinate Adolescents against Cancers) quality improvement projects. The projects, tested by FQHCs, aim to increase HPV vaccination rates and eliminate missed vaccination opportunities through improved clinical processes and systems. Over an 8- to 12-month period, American Cancer Society staff support health systems through an evidence-based process providing proven tools, training and the latest research to maximize project outcomes. If you are interested in improving your HPV Vaccination rates, please reach out to your respective American Cancer Society partner for more information on how you can be involved.

Get more information on HPV VACs quality improvement projects here: https://www.mysocietysource.org/sites/HPV/ResourcesandEducation/Lists/Clearinghouse/Attachments/588/HPV%20VACs%20QI%20Project%20Description.pdf

Further Information

Utah American Cancer Society: 
Shay Bilinski, MPA, Primary Care Health Systems Manager
shay.bilinski@cancer.org
801.493.4716

Oregon American Cancer Society:
Jenica Palmer, MPH, Primary Care Health Systems Manager
Jenica.palmer@cancer.org
503-795-3906
Bridget Kiene, Health Systems Manager, State-Based
Bridget.kiene@cancer.org
503.795.3993

New Mexico American Cancer Society:
Cecily Blackwater, MPH, Primary Care Health Systems Manager
Cecily.blackwater@cancer.org
505.262.6029
Dorine Conley, Health Systems Manager, State-Based
Dorine.conley@cancer.org
505.262.6011

Nevada American Cancer Society:
June Hunter, MPH, Primary Care Health Systems Manager
June.hunter@cancer.org
775.828.2208

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