Pharmacists key to widespread HPV vaccination

February 12, 2014

Millions of avoidable cancers could be prevented through widespread human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV), according to a report released by the President's Cancer Panel. And chief amongst the report’s recommendations to prevent these avoidable cancers and deaths is empowering pharmacists to administer HPV vaccinations.

Millions of avoidable cancers could be prevented through widespread human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV), according to a report released by the President's Cancer Panel.  And chief amongst the report’s recommendations to prevent these avoidable cancers and deaths is empowering pharmacists to administer HPV vaccinations.

The report, Accelerating HPV Vaccine Uptake: Urgency for Action to Prevent Cancer, said one in four people in the United States are infected with at least one type of HPV, which is linked to multiple cancers and other diseases.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National and state vaccination coverage among adolescents aged 13-17 years–United States, 2012. MMWR. 2013 Aug 30;62(34):685-93. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23985496.  

"Today, there are two safe, effective, approved vaccines that prevent infection by the two most prevalent cancer-causing types, yet vaccination rates are far too low," said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, chair of the President's Cancer Panel. "We are confident that if HPV vaccination for girls and boys is made a public health priority, hundreds of thousands will be protected from these HPV-associated diseases and cancers over their lifetimes."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of 13- to 17-year-old girls in the United States have received all three recommended doses of HPV vaccine. And less than 7% of boys ages 13-17 had completed the vaccine series in 2012. Increasing HPV vaccination rates from current levels to 80% would prevent an additional 53,000 future cervical cancer cases in the United States among girls who now are 12 years of age or younger, over the course of their lifetimes. 

The reports three main recommendations for increasing HPV vaccinations include reducing missed clinical opportunities to recommend and administer the vaccines; increasing parents and adolescents’ acceptance of the vaccines; and maximizing access to HPV vaccination services. It encourages states to enact laws that allow pharmacists to administer the HPV vaccinations.

“The report provides concrete, targeted, and actionable recommendations-supported by evidence and input from key stakeholders-to address these barriers and achieve greater uptake of HPV vaccines by both boys and girls,” Thomas E. Menighan, BS Pharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, wrote in his blog. “Pharmacists and APhA are included in several places in the report and recommendations.”

Rhode Island and Delaware were the leading states with more than half of 13- to 17-year-old girls who received the complete HPV vaccine series in 2012. Find out how your state compares.