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September 12, 2016 - Coalition convenes in Mobile to press for HPV vaccinations
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2016-09-12 Alabama HPV Vaccination Coalition MK 246620 resized.jpgMOBILE, Alabama – A coalition of public health representatives from across Alabama met Monday at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute to collaborate on how to improve vaccination rates against the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, which is associated with several cancers.

The Alabama HPV Vaccination Coalition includes representatives from MCI, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Alabama Department of Public Health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, VIVA Health, the American Cancer Society, the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, Alabama PTA, Area Health Education Centers, the Alabama Child Health Improvement Alliance, Vaccine for Children and the Alabama Pharmacy Association.

“All of these organizations are coming together with one mission – to increase HPV vaccinations in Alabama,” said Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D., MPH, associate director of Globalization and Cancer at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center in Birmingham.

Earlier this year, the coalition issued a call to action for parents to get their children vaccinated and for health-care providers to advocate for the HPV vaccine.

Alabama made progress from 2014 to 2015 in vaccinating adolescent boys against the Human Papillomavirus, so that the state’s rates for boys and girls is nearing national rates, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HPV infection is associated with genital warts and several cancers, including cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women, penile cancer in men, and anal and throat cancers.

Alabama’s HPV vaccination rate for boys ages 13-17 climbed from 9 percent in 2014 to an estimated 22.6 percent in 2015 following the CDC’s decision to begin recommending the three-dose vaccine for boys, in addition to girls. The state rate for boys compares with a 28.1 percent vaccination rate for boys nationally.

Meanwhile, 40.8 percent of adolescent girls in Alabama were reported to have received the vaccine in 2015, compared with 41.9 percent for girls ages 13-17 nationally, the CDC said.

“Many people do not realize that, in most cases, cancers and other diseases caused by HPV are preventable,” said Casey L. Daniel, Ph.D., assistant professor of oncologic sciences at MCI. “We want to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated against HPV just as they would against other preventable diseases.”

 Read Scarinci's op-ed, "We can protect our children from cancer, but parents must be willing to vaccinate" on al.com.

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