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Posted By: Susan M. Tiso, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC
May 02, 2019
For more than 10 years we have had a safe and effective vaccine that can prevent several types of cancer. I understand the reluctance to accept a vaccine when it is new and the scientific evidence is not overwhelming or well established… although there is so much research and rigor prior to FDA approval of a vaccine that one could argue that point. Additionally, there is intense scrutiny of the research and economic implications of new vaccines prior to recommendation releases by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). I believe in this process, and it gives me much reassurance when I recommend vaccines for patients, as well as when I have personally received vaccines or given them to my child. However, maybe the push we need to protect the public will come from state-mandated policies to enforce vaccine uptake for our children and adolescents, as in the case of HPV.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) related cancers affect approximately 27,000 men and women annually. The ACIP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a trio of vaccines for adolescents at ages 11-12, including HPV; tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap); and meningococcal (MCV) vaccines. However, the responsibility to make and enforce vaccine mandates for school entry is the responsibility of state health departments.
In the US, only the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Rhode Island have mandates for HPV vaccine, although the details of the mandates vary among each. The HPV vaccine uptake rates for Rhode Island and DC increased significantly after the mandate went into effect compared to Pennsylvania, which has no HPV vaccine mandate. Take a look at this interesting article which has more information on this matter: “Policy support for expanding the adolescent vaccine school mandate in Pennsylvania to include the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.” Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 2019;31:263-268.