ACP: Educate parents on importance of HPV vaccine

Jack Ende

In the United States, HPV is the most common STD, with about one in four individuals infected and each year, approximately 14 million Americans, including adolescents, contract the virus, according to the CDC.

Cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile or anal cancers, as well as oropharyngeal cancer, can be caused by HPV; however, the CDC states that most cancers caused by the virus (about 28,000 out of 30,700) can be prevented by the HPV vaccine. Despite this important benefit, uptake of the HPV vaccine has been suboptimal, with 52.2% of girls and 39% of boys completing at least two rounds of injections as of 2015, according to the CDC. In 2016, the ACIP and CDC recommended that only two rounds of injections were necessary to confer immunity.

With August designated at National Immunization Awareness Month, Healio Internal Medicine spoke with Jack Ende, MD, MACP, president of ACP, about the importance of vaccinating younger patients against HPV and how to stress its importance to parents.

“The disturbingly low rates of immunization for HPV, particularly compared to other vaccines, really is a call to action. Hopefully, the simplified administration schedule will help,” Ende said in an interview. “There are important roles here for physicians and parents, but also for those responsible for public health policy at the state level. While all states and Washington, D.C. require school age children to have certain immunizations completed, very few states have extended that requirement to include HPV.”

A threefold strategy is crucial for clinicians to follow when encouraging parents to recognize the value of the HPV vaccine, according to Ende.

“First, be sure parents are aware of the high prevalence of HPV,” he said. “Second, educate parents on the direct relationship between HPV and genital warts, but also, of course, between HPV and cervical, vaginal, anal, oropharyngeal and penile cancer. And third, be sure they understand that the vaccine really does work, and that it is safe.”

Parents may be overly concerned about safety and adverse effects of administering the HPV vaccine to their pre-adolescent, not unlike many other vaccines, Ende said.

“Simply saying the vaccine is safe may not be enough,” he said. “Physicians and other health care providers need to be prepared to share information on efficacy and safety. Calling attention to the very strong endorsement of HPV vaccine for girls and boys by leading medical societies, including the ACP, can help.”

Many parents are also concerned that the HPV vaccination will encourage sexual activity, according to Ende. However, “that is simply not true and there are now several large studies that allay this false belief,” he said.

For instance, a study published in Pediatrics in November 2012 concluded that HPV vaccination of participants at the recommended ages was not associated with increased sexual activity-related outcome rates for up to three years after vaccination.

The change from a three-dose to a two-dose protocol for the HPV vaccine is a prominent new recommendation, especially for countries that have limited access to resources for vaccination programs, according to Ende.

“The new regimen may help other countries encourage adherence to the recommended schedule,” he said. “In fact, when administered before age 15, two doses of vaccine separated by 6 months has been shown, in terms of immunogenicity, to be noninferior to the three-dose schedule.”

Ende noted that administering the vaccine to patients at a younger age, before sexual activity has commenced, is preferred. – by Alaina Tedesco

Reference:

Bednarczyk RA, et al. Pediatrics. 2012;doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1516.

Disclosure: Ende reports no relevant financial disclosures.

 

Jack Ende

In the United States, HPV is the most common STD, with about one in four individuals infected and each year, approximately 14 million Americans, including adolescents, contract the virus, according to the CDC.

Cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile or anal cancers, as well as oropharyngeal cancer, can be caused by HPV; however, the CDC states that most cancers caused by the virus (about 28,000 out of 30,700) can be prevented by the HPV vaccine. Despite this important benefit, uptake of the HPV vaccine has been suboptimal, with 52.2% of girls and 39% of boys completing at least two rounds of injections as of 2015, according to the CDC. In 2016, the ACIP and CDC recommended that only two rounds of injections were necessary to confer immunity.

With August designated at National Immunization Awareness Month, Healio Internal Medicine spoke with Jack Ende, MD, MACP, president of ACP, about the importance of vaccinating younger patients against HPV and how to stress its importance to parents.

“The disturbingly low rates of immunization for HPV, particularly compared to other vaccines, really is a call to action. Hopefully, the simplified administration schedule will help,” Ende said in an interview. “There are important roles here for physicians and parents, but also for those responsible for public health policy at the state level. While all states and Washington, D.C. require school age children to have certain immunizations completed, very few states have extended that requirement to include HPV.”

A threefold strategy is crucial for clinicians to follow when encouraging parents to recognize the value of the HPV vaccine, according to Ende.

“First, be sure parents are aware of the high prevalence of HPV,” he said. “Second, educate parents on the direct relationship between HPV and genital warts, but also, of course, between HPV and cervical, vaginal, anal, oropharyngeal and penile cancer. And third, be sure they understand that the vaccine really does work, and that it is safe.”

Parents may be overly concerned about safety and adverse effects of administering the HPV vaccine to their pre-adolescent, not unlike many other vaccines, Ende said.

“Simply saying the vaccine is safe may not be enough,” he said. “Physicians and other health care providers need to be prepared to share information on efficacy and safety. Calling attention to the very strong endorsement of HPV vaccine for girls and boys by leading medical societies, including the ACP, can help.”

PAGE BREAK

Many parents are also concerned that the HPV vaccination will encourage sexual activity, according to Ende. However, “that is simply not true and there are now several large studies that allay this false belief,” he said.

For instance, a study published in Pediatrics in November 2012 concluded that HPV vaccination of participants at the recommended ages was not associated with increased sexual activity-related outcome rates for up to three years after vaccination.

The change from a three-dose to a two-dose protocol for the HPV vaccine is a prominent new recommendation, especially for countries that have limited access to resources for vaccination programs, according to Ende.

“The new regimen may help other countries encourage adherence to the recommended schedule,” he said. “In fact, when administered before age 15, two doses of vaccine separated by 6 months has been shown, in terms of immunogenicity, to be noninferior to the three-dose schedule.”

Ende noted that administering the vaccine to patients at a younger age, before sexual activity has commenced, is preferred. – by Alaina Tedesco

Reference:

Bednarczyk RA, et al. Pediatrics. 2012;doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1516.

Disclosure: Ende reports no relevant financial disclosures.