SEATTLE, Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For many teenagers, getting vaccinated to prevent the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), known to cause deadly cancers, just got a lot easier. Group Health is prepared to explain and administer the new protocol to patients, which for some, reduces the number of injections from three shots to two shots.
Last month, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended changes, approved by the CDC, eliminating one injection and simplifying the protocol for most teens ages 9 to 14. There is no change for ages 15 to 26.
"Group Health long has been a strong advocate for HPV vaccination, educating our members about this potentially life-saving vaccine," said Dr. John Dunn, Assistant Medical Director for Preventative Care at Group Health and the 2016 Washington State Childhood Immunization Champion for the Centers for Disease Control. "This new protocol helps advance the work we've already been doing in our clinics and through the Group Health Foundation to educate the community and lower barriers to encourage more young people to be vaccinated against HPV."
Although simplified for many teenagers, the new protocol still may be confusing, particularly for teenagers who may already have begun to receive initial doses, Dunn said.
"Ask your doctor if you have questions," he said.
HPV is a common infection. Nearly 80 million people—about one in four—are currently infected in the United States, including both men and women. There are many types of HPV. Some types of the virus can cause genital warts. Other types can cause cervical cancer and some less common cancers, such as vaginal and anal cancer. The HPV vaccine protects against the most common HPV types that can cause serious problems. The best time to get the vaccine is before teenagers become sexually active.
Here's a brief explanation of how the new HPV protocol works:
For 9- to 14-year-olds, patients who have received no doses, they now will receive the two-dose protocol separated by at least 6 months. (This replaces what was a three-dose requirement.)
For 9- to 14-year-olds who already have been administered the initial dose, they can wait 6 months and complete the protocol with only one more injection (instead of two). If they've had two doses within 6 months, they'll have to wait and still require the third dose.
For 9- to 14-year-olds who already have been administered two HPV vaccines at least 6 months apart, they're now done. Congrats!
For patients 15 years and older, the traditional three-dose series still applies unless they received a dose before their 15th birthday (in which case only two doses, separated by at least 6 months, are necessary).
About Group Health Group Health Cooperative offers a unique health care system, care delivery and insurance coverage, in order to achieve one goal – affordable, quality health care for all. Our innovative practices at 25 medical centers and within major Washington hospitals have earned national recognition for medical quality, disease prevention, and evidence-based treatments. These priorities have remained the same since we began serving patients in 1947. As a nonprofit organization, Group Health helps more than 600,000 patients throughout Washington state achieve better health. Our focus on preventive care, combined with medical education, a charitable foundation and a nationally recognized research institute, advances health in the community in a way no one else can. Group Health supports events, programs, and organizations that share this commitment to strengthening health in our communities. For more information about Group Health, visit www.ghc.org.