Members of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center played a major role in developing the recommendations in a President’s Cancer Panel (PCP) report urging a widespread public campaign to increase the rate of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.
The PCP said that increasing HPV vaccination is one of the most profound opportunities for cancer prevention.
As evidence mounts linking specific HPV subtypes to a variety of conditions, including 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, the PCP calls for a coordinated effort to increase the rates of vaccination among both boys and girls. Presently, only 33 percent of girls and 7 percent of boys in the US have received the recommended three-doses of the vaccine. A further 54 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The call to action was led by Gillings School of Global Public Health Dean and UNC Lineberger member Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, who is chair of the President’s Cancer Panel. Dr. Rimer has led the panel since 2011. The PCP is charged with identifying barriers to progress against cancer and reporting on them to the President of the United States.
Noel T. Brewer, PhD, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of Cervical Cancer-Free North Carolina, co-chaired of one of four workshops that informed the report. Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, of the School of Medicine, also co-chaired a workshop and contributed to the report. The research of UNC Lineberger member Jennifer S. Smith, PhD, MPH, of the Gillings School of Public Health, also contributed to the report
The report calls on health care providers to reduce missed opportunities to recommend and administer HPV vaccines. To further this goal, the panel recommends that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control develop communication efforts aimed at increasing health care providers’ knowledge about the benefits of HPV vaccines and encouraging providers to recommend strongly that age-eligible adolescent be vaccinated.
Efforts should also be made to inform parents and adolescents about the safety and effectiveness of HPV vaccines. This should include public information campaigns designed to promote the importance of the vaccine in reducing cancer risk and stressing the safety of the vaccine.
The report also recommends that the availability of the vaccine should be expanded. These efforts should include enactment of laws that allow pharmacists to administer the vaccinations. Any barriers to vaccination due to cost should also be removed, as the current high cost of the vaccine – around $400 for three doses – further discourages vaccination for those groups not covered by several different programs that pay for vaccines.