To Increase HPV Vaccine Consent Rates, Bundle It With Routine Shots, And Stop Saying It Prevents STD, Experts Say

A new study published online in Pediatrics told doctors that a clinic in Denver found a clever way to increase Gardasil and other HPV vaccine coverage among teens. Doctors can make it more likely that a parent will sign off on their child receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine by simply bundling it with routine vaccinations and not pointing out that it prevents an STD. According to the study, Hispanics, non-English speakers, and teenagers below 200 percent of the federal poverty level were most likely to receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine with the new delivery method used at the Denver clinic.

Only slightly more than half of the nation’s teens are getting vaccinated against HPV, in part because it has been so controversial with social media reports like these below.

These are just a few of the girls, who died from the #Gardasil vaccine. Yet the pro-vax docs keep pushing. #vaxxed

— SaveDaddysGirl (@SaveDaddysGirl) August 7, 2016

The vaccine has been controversial from its launch, but some doctors and parents claimed earlier this year that there is a link between the HPV vaccine and premature ovarian failure. This concern added to the list of other concerns some parents have had about giving their children Gardasil. Even parents who vaccinate on schedule have mentioned that they are nervous about the HPV vaccine.

Parents have noticed controversies in other countries surrounding the HPV vaccine too. For example U.S. parents took note when news broke that a chart from Japan’s IDSC stated that “[a]s a result of discussion at a meeting of Committee on Adverse Reactions of Immunization and Vaccine Department in the Health Science Council of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare held on June 14, 2013, it is not actively recommended at present.” Many parents erroneously thought that the vaccine was actually completely banned in Japan.

In other areas of the world, media outlets, such as Irish Times, have been allowing parents who claim disastrous adverse events following Gardasil to have a platform to speak. The Guardian claims that allowing a platform for this kind of speech “risks adding to the public perception there is some genuine debate over the safety and efficacy of the vaccine when this is resoundingly not the case.”

In 2014, Michèle Rivas, as a Member of the European Parliament, called for a moratorium on Gardasil, an HPV vaccine, among the member states. The Guardian claims such statements by lawmakers are either based in ignorance or vote-seeking. Also in 2014, Bernard Dalbergue, a former physician for Merck, told the French magazine Principes de Santé that the vaccine was not as amazing as experts were claiming. Dalbergue’s interview statements were, according to Judicial Watch, “the most disturbing inside information exposed about the vaccine.”

“I predict that Gardasil will be the biggest medical scandal of all time. Because at one time we will prove by A + B that this vaccine for technical and scientific prowess it has no effect on cervical cancer and that many cases of effects undesirable that destroy lives and even kill, are there for the sole benefit of the laboratories,” Dalbergue warned in the interview with the French magazine, as translated by Google into English.

Still, serious adverse events following the HPV vaccine are rare, HPV expert Dr. Diane Harper told the Huffington Post.

“The rate of serious adverse events reported is 3.4/100,000 doses distributed. The current incidence rate of cervical cancer in the United States is 7/100,000 women.”

A 2015 report claims that data from over a million individuals indicated that the HPV vaccine has a favorable safety profile. Never-the-less, these are just a few of the safety concerns that have caused many parents who otherwise vaccinate according to the CDC’s schedule to refuse the HPV vaccine for their children. The Guardian claims that other parents have opposed the HPV vaccine due to moral concerns.

So, newer studies indicate that the vaccine might just need a new marketing plan.

Human papillomavirus is a common sexually transmitted virus. Many types of HPV are believed to cause multiple kinds of cancers. Instead of talking about the STD, new research indicates that doctors should present it as a cancer-preventing vaccine.

The most well-known cancer that has been causally linked to HPV is, of course, cervical cancer. At least 4,000 women die of cervical cancer each year in the United States. There are, of course, multiple risk factors for cervical cancer, besides simply having HPV, according to The American Cancer Society.

“Several risk factors increase your chance of developing cervical cancer. Women without any of these risk factors rarely develop cervical cancer. Although these risk factors increase the odds of developing cervical cancer, many women with these risks do not develop this disease. When a woman develops cervical cancer or pre-cancerous changes, it may not be possible to say with certainty that a particular risk factor was the cause.”

These risk factors include smoking, HIV or other immune system conditions, chlamydia, diets low in fruits and vegetables, being overweight, birth control pills, IUDs, being younger than 17-year-old and experiencing a full-term pregnancy, poverty, and exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a hormonal drug that was prescribed between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. In the case of DES, women whose mothers were given DES while pregnant were found to sometimes develop clear-cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina or cervix.

Increasing the HPV vaccine coverage among teens is important, according to the CDC, and will save lives, the Center says. The authors of the new study out of the clinic in Denver also found that the HPV vaccine needs to be treated like any other childhood vaccine, rather than a vaccine against a sexually transmitted disease.

Medical Express explained that authors of the new study claim that by lumping HPV in with routine vaccinations, the Denver clinic was able to dramatically increase vaccination rates.

The results were staggering: The Denver clinic achieved nearly 90 percent coverage in boys and girls, researchers report.

Dr. Anna-Lisa Farmar, lead researcher and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado in Aurora said, “The program is simple and low cost, and something that can easily be rolled out at other institutions.”

Farmar said that at the clinic, they “use every visit as an opportunity to give vaccinations.”

Now, all the doctors at that clinic do is treat the HPV vaccine as though it is a standard vaccine, rather than singling out the HPV vaccines when getting the legally required informed consent. Dr. Farmar says, “As a result, parents feel more confident in giving these vaccines for their child.”

Michael Grosso, medical director and chief medical officer at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital, said that the Denver clinic’s method is “back to the future.”

“It has not been common practice in primary care to have a discussion about would you like to get vaccinated.”

Dr. Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said that doctors shouldn’t offer the HPV vaccine as a separate choice, according to Medical Express. He says that they should just include it in their regular vaccine schedule. He also indicated that the HPV vaccine shouldn’t be described to parents as a vaccine to prevent HPV, the sexually transmitted disease.

“If parents ask about the vaccine, it should be described as a cancer-preventing vaccine.”

Offit said that the vaccine would prevent 30,000 cases of cancer a year, and as many as 5,000 deaths. Offit said that kids need to be protected from the sexually transmitted disease before they become sexually active.

“There’s no avoiding it. It’s a very common sexually transmitted disease,” Offit said of HPV. “The vaccine shouldn’t be an option because good health shouldn’t be an option.”

[Featured Image by melvil | Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and resized | CC BY-SA 4.0]