HPV vaccination information
As physician assistants, parents and children trust you to make healthcare recommendations. One of the most important things you can do is have conversations with parents about the importance of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and can cause many types of cancer. Studies show that healthcare provider recommendation has a strong effect on a parent’s decision to immunize their child. The vaccine is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for both males and females ages 11-12. It can be administered to anyone ages 9-26. Because the vaccine has no therapeutic effect on HPV disease, it will not treat already existing HPV. For this reason, it is important to vaccinate adolescents long before their sexual debut to ensure full protection. Most North Dakota adolescents do not complete the vaccine series until age 16-18, if at all, which leaves many of them unprotected from HPV during their sexual debut. Results from the 2011 North Dakota Youth Risk Behaviors Survey (YRBS) show that 25 percent of North Dakota 9th graders have had sex and by 12th grade, the percentage increases to 62 percent. In North Dakota, only 12.3% of people ages 9-18 have completed the three-dose vaccination series. According to a survey done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, parent concerns over vaccine safety is the biggest barrier for pediatricians to address. The other main barrier cited by the survey is the three-dose vaccination series, where patients must come back in to the provider for the second and third doses.
What can you do to increase HPV vaccination rates in your practice?
- Start the conversation with parents early to get them thinking about upcoming vaccinations. Give them time and resources to learn more about the vaccine before making the decision to vaccinate their children. Be sure to address safety concerns and point to resources with vaccine safety information.
- Remember that both males and females should be vaccinated. Research links HPV the following cancers: cervical, oropharyngeal, anal, penile, vulvar and vaginal. Vaccinating males and females protects both against cancer and genital warts.
- Check patient’s vaccination records whenever they come in, even if it is for an unrelated visit. Capitalize on opportunities to begin and complete the vaccination series.
- Have patients schedule their next appointment before they leave your office, especially if they need to return to complete the vaccination series.
- Send reminders to patients who are due for their next dose.
- Utilize the links to resources below to educate parents about the vaccine.
- Contact the North Dakota Department of Health at 701-328-3046 for additional information/resources.