Boots On The Ground - That’s what it will take to get HPV vaccination rates up in the state, says Kathleen Cartmell, Ph.D., in a meeting with school nurses this past fall. She knows it will take a village of researchers, doctors, nurses, schools and parents to get the word out that the human papillomavirus causes many types of cancer and that there’s a very effective vaccine that can protect children from ever getting it.
The state is doing better raising its rates, with awareness efforts beginning to pay off. The state had the fourth highest increase in the nation last year, but the effort is far from over. “We still have a long way to go,” she says.
“The momentum we’re seeing in South Carolina is huge right now. We’ve learned we have to get people engaged and excited to make a difference.”
Cartmell says school nurses are powerful partners. “They are the ones in the school everyday. Everyone is coming together. It’s pretty amazing.”
HPV Quick Facts
- In South Carolina, the human papillomavirus causes more than 580 new cancers each year.
- HPV vaccines have been available since 2006 and can prevent most of these cancers.
- The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls ages 11-12 at a time before they are exposed.
- HPV infection is extremely common.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the approved use of the vaccine to include women and men up through 45 years.