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HPV Vaccinations Still Falling Short

  • September 18, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

HPV vaccination Rates for vaccination against HPV failed to increase from 2011-2012. The vaccine is in stock and readily available, with no clear reason for the lack of use. Since the vaccine’s introduction in 2006, this was the first year where there has not been an increase in girls receiving the vaccine. The vaccine is spread out in three doses over the course of treatment, and is one of the many factors in reducing cervical cancer. If the HPV vaccine was completed by 80% of its target demographic, over 53,000 cases of cervical cancer could be prevented in young women under the age of 12.

Parents often do not choose to have their child vaccinated against HPV, citing a multitude of reasons why they found the shot to be unnecessary. Whether single-dose or multiple doses, parents often have concerns about a vaccine’s safety, effectiveness, and its overall necessity for their children. Not vaccinating children is a common trend, and pharmacists should be aware that these cases do exist. Stressing the importance of vaccination in preventing illnesses is critical. The HPV vaccine has been proven both safe and effective. If vaccination rates remain at their current level, 4,400 women will develop cervical cancer as a result.

As health care providers, pharmacists and pharmacies should make parents aware of the benefits of the vaccine. Educating parents about the effectiveness and safety of the HPV vaccine will help to ensure that children who need it get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is recommended for females ages 12-26 and males 11-21.

The HPV vaccine has decreased cases of HPV in adolescents by more than 50% in young women ages 14-19 since its implementation. Side effects are minimal, ranging from headache, nausea, dizziness, hives, and fevers. Pharmacists can be aware of which clients have scheduled an appointment to be vaccinated, and follow up if they miss an appointment. The three dose HPV vaccination rate is 53%, while the single dose has stalled at 53% as well. If surveyed adolescents in 2012 had received the vaccine on schedule, the administered dosage rate would be 92%. The stagnant rate is in large due to lack of patient education on the vaccine, safety concerns, and effectiveness concerns. In many cases, the patient is not sexually active, so parents do not pursue the vaccine if it is recommended to them for their child. Pharmacists must present educational materials, and stress the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, even if an adolescent is not currently sexually active.

Pharmacies should have reading material available highlighting the many benefits of choosing this vaccine. Though the decision to vaccinate for HPV is often chosen at the primary care level, it is critical that pharmacies and their staff further educate parents on the need for this vaccine.

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