alec stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

Only 65% of all U.S. teens have received the first dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine—and only 48.6% of those teens are up to date with the series of HPV vaccinations. Studies have shown the HPV vaccination is effective at reducing the rates of cervix, vaginal, anal, and penile cancers. HPV vaccination rates have become a national health prevention priority, and oncology nurses can help lead the discussion about ways to prevent more than 90% of all HPV-related cancers.

The National HPV Vaccination Roundtable—a coalition from the American Cancer Society with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—created a new toolkit to help nurses accomplish their HPV vaccination mission. The toolkit includes the basics on HPV for clinicians, how to answer commonly asked questions, tips to manage shot discomfort, and more.

The Roundtable is hosting a webinar on March 11, 2020, at 3 pm EST to help nurses implement the toolkit in practice. Nurse practitioners will discuss HPV to prepare nurses to confidently initiate and complete the HPV vaccine series for their patients. The webinar will train the trainer, providing nurses with tangible ways to communicate the importance of vaccines to their clinical team and inspire them to get the word out.

Current CDC guidelines recommend vaccinating children starting at age 11 for the first dose, followed by another dose 6–12 months later. The vaccine is also recommended for any patient under 26 years old, and up to age 45 depending on consultation with a family doctor.

As part of the campaign to raise awareness of the vaccine’s efficacy, CDC reported an 86% drop in infections with HPV types that cause cancers among teen girls. Among young adult women, infections for HPV cancers have dropped 71%, and cervical precancers among vaccinated women have dropped by 40% overall.

Reports show that HPV vaccines are effective and safe for patients. In recent years, vaccine adoption has also led to benefits like herd immunity, a phenomenon where even people who haven’t received the vaccine are developing fewer oral HPV infections. As leaders in the screening and prevention conversation, nurses can fill a tremendous role at their institutions and in their communities by educating individuals on the importance of routine vaccinations like HPV.