How one clinic got a big boost in HPV vaccination rates

October 5, 2016 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—The way to increase the number of girls and boys who get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may be as simple as giving it as part of a routine bundle of vaccines, a new study suggests.

The HPV vaccine, which guards against the virus that causes most cervical cancers, is only being used in just over half of teen girls in the United States, lagging far behind other recommended vaccinations in this age group.

But, by lumping HPV in with other required vaccinations, a Denver clinic was able to dramatically increase vaccination rates to nearly 90 percent in boys and girls, researchers report.

"The program is simple and low cost, and something that can easily be rolled out at other institutions," said lead researcher Dr. Anna-Lisa Farmar. She is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado in Aurora.

"It's become a part of our general procedures to encourage vaccination at every visit, and use every visit as an opportunity to give vaccinations," she said.

Doctors at the clinic see all vaccines given to 11-year-olds—including HPV—as standard, rather than singling out the HPV vaccine as optional or different from the others, Farmar explained. "As a result, parents feel more confident in giving these vaccines for their child," she said.

Some parents are concerned that their children will become sexually active if they get the HPV vaccine, Farmar acknowledged.

"We let them know that the vaccine works much better when it's given well before the onset of sexual activity and that studies have shown that giving a child their HPV vaccine doesn't increase their likelihood of becoming sexually active," she said.

"HPV should be viewed as one of the routine vaccines for adolescents. It's the first vaccine that prevents a cancer," she added.

One doctor said the approach makes sense.

"This is back to the future. It has not been common practice in primary care to have a discussion about would you like to get vaccinated," said Dr. Michael Grosso, medical director and chief medical officer at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

The HPV vaccine is really no different than other vaccines for prevention of diseases, he said.

"It prevents cervical cancer in women, penile cancers in men, and cancers of the throat in both sexes. So rather than talking about sexually transmitted infection, the emphasis is on cancer prevention," Grosso said.

For the study, Farmar and her colleagues started a program at Denver Health, which provides health care to a disadvantaged city population and serves more than 17,000 teens annually.

The program tried to boost vaccination rates by bundling vaccines at each clinic visit and keeping track of all patients' immunization records.

Using this approach, HPV vaccination rates for teens aged 13 to 17 rose significantly. In 2013, among more than 11,000 teens, 90 percent of girls and 89 percent of boys had at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with a national average of 57 percent of girls and 35 percent of boys.

In addition, rates of the three required doses of the vaccine rose to 66 percent of girls and 53 percent of boys, compared with a national average of 38 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Girls, Hispanics, non-English speakers and teenagers below 200 percent of the were more likely to have received three doses of HPV vaccine, the researchers found.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all girls and boys should get three doses of the HPV vaccine starting at age 11.

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said that "it's the doctor that ends up being the key person in giving the vaccine."

Doctors shouldn't offer HPV vaccine as a choice, as many do, but rather include it in the regular vaccine schedule, Offit suggested. "If parents ask about the vaccine, it should be described as a cancer-preventing vaccine," he said.

"This vaccine will prevent up to 30,000 cases of cancer a year and as many as 5,000 deaths, and that's why it's important that you get it," Offit said.

And, it's important to protect kids from HPV before they become sexually active. About 80 percent of people are exposed to HPV by the time they are in their 20s, he said.

"There's no avoiding it. It's a very common sexually transmitted disease," Offit said. And it doesn't make sense that the vaccine would encourage teens to become sexually active because "it doesn't protect against gonorrhea or syphilis or chlamydia or other ," he said.

"The shouldn't be an option, because good health shouldn't be an option," Offit said.

The study findings were published online Oct. 5 in the journal Pediatrics.

Explore further: HPV-cancers on rise in United States

More information: Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more about HPV.

Related Stories

HPV-cancers on rise in United States

July 7, 2016
The number of cancers associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is on the rise in the United States, reaching nearly 39,000 each year, a US government report said Thursday.

Vaccine has cut HPV infection rate in teen girls by two-thirds: study

February 22, 2016
(HealthDay)—Ten years of vaccinating against human papillomavirus (HPV) has cut infections from this cancer-causing virus by 64 percent among teen girls, U.S. health officials report.

A doctor's words key to whether child gets HPV vaccine

September 30, 2016
(HealthDay)—The language doctors use when recommending the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can influence whether parents will have their children immunized, a new study finds.

Not enough kids receiving the recommended three doses of HPV vaccination

February 3, 2016
Most cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) are preventable with a vaccine. Yet the infection is responsible for 27,000 cancer diagnoses each year in the U.S.

Only about half of teenage girls receive HPV vaccine at the CDC's recommended age

January 21, 2015
It's a virus that is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer but a new study by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers indicates that only about half of the girls receive the vaccine at the ...

Many doctors don't urge HPV shots for preteens, study says

January 4, 2016
Many pediatricians and family doctors are not strongly recommending the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine to preteens and their parents, contributing to low vaccination rates, a survey of nearly 600 doctors suggests.

Recommended for you

Urgent call for prevention strategies for sleep-related infant deaths

June 22, 2018
Dr. Kyran Quinlan and colleagues at Rush issue an urgent call for prevention strategies for sleep-related infant deaths in his viewpoint, "Protecting Infants From Sleep-Related Deaths" published in the June 18 online issue ...

Infant colic leads to no ongoing problems, study shows

June 21, 2018
Colicky babies whose crying eases within three months have no ongoing behavioural problems according to new research by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI).

Diagnosing and treating disorders of early sex development

June 19, 2018
Diagnosing, advising on and treating disorders of early sex development represent a huge medical challenge, both for those affected and for treating physicians. In contrast to the earlier view, DSD (Difference of Sex Development) ...

Use of alternative medicines has doubled among kids, especially teens

June 18, 2018
A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that since 2003, the use of alternative medicines, such as herbal products and nutraceuticals, among children has doubled. The University of Illinois at Chicago researchers who ...

Virtual reality headsets significantly reduce children's fear of needles

June 18, 2018
The scenario is all too familiar for the majority of parents. The crying, the screaming and the tantrums as they try to coax their children into the doctor's office for routine immunizations. After all, who can't relate to ...

Both quantity and quality of sleep affect cardiovascular risk factors in adolescents

June 15, 2018
A study from a research team led by a MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) physician finds that both the quantity and quality of sleep—the amount of time spent sleeping and the percentage of sleep that is undisturbed—in ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

solehealing
3 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2016
How much do you want to bet the clinic is also about to get an uptick in seizures, strokes, autoimmune illness, and Guillane-Barre Syndrome?
bravenewworld
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2016
Someone needs to remind Dr. Anna-Lisa Farmar and Dr. Paul Offit of the principle of Informed Consent. Informed Consent is an integral part of the Nuremberg Code and the Geneva Convention that the United States has sworn to uphold.

Deceptive medical practices, such as "slipping HPV" into a mix of other vaccinations, is a violation of the medical ethics of the AMA. HPV is a VERY unpopular vaccine and the medical community/Pharma is bound and determined to get their money out of it, one way or another. This is certainly "another".
kreosol
not rated yet Oct 10, 2016
This article says a Denver clinic has been lying to parents, sneaking in a vaccine currently not required for school, and they're beaming with pride about this fact! Fraud as a brilliant strategy for selling a dangerous vaccine to families. Didn't criminal activity use to carry a negative connotation? Isn't fraud, deceit and coercion illegal? But this article boastfully advertises that this is the way they do business now? Just don't tell the parent, that's the plan

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.