The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) recently awarded Dr. Sally W. Vernon with a nearly $1.5 million grant for her project on HPV vaccination in pediatric clinics. Dr. Vernon is division director and Dr. Blair Justice, professor in mind-body medicine and public health, in the division of health promotion and behavioral sciences at The University of Texas School of Public Health.
[Photo: Dr. Sally W. Vernon]
HPV-related morbidity and mortality can be reduced through vaccination. Despite evidence of safety and efficacy, and endorsement by professional organizations, HPV vaccination rates are well below the 2020 Healthy People target of 80 percent. Data from the 2008-2010 NIS-Teen survey found that provider and healthcare system factors were important determinants in parents’ decisions to vaccinate their child against HPV. The single-most important determinant was receiving a recommendation from a healthcare provider. A recent review of healthcare professionals’ communication practices about vaccines for sexually-transmitted infections found that providers were hesitant to recommend HPV vaccine due to lack of knowledge about vaccine safety, efficacy and current recommendations as well as misperceptions about parental barriers to vaccination. The overall goal of the project is to increase initiation and completion of HPV vaccination among male and female patients ages 11-21 in a pediatric clinic network with 49 clinics in 5 counties in the greater Houston area.