Utahns don’t always love a vaccine. Except this one.

Data shows that teenage HPV vaccination rates continue to rise. Doctors, researchers and community partners explain why.

(Huntsman Cancer Institute) Deanna Kepka holds her son Jonah’s hand as he gets the HPV vaccine.

Last week, the Tribune reported on improving human papillomavirus vaccination rates among teenagers. (You can read the whole story here).

Here are the key takeaways from the reporting.

The payment

New data from the CDC’s 2021 National Immunization Survey estimates that 80.9% of teens in Utah have received their first dose of human papillomavirus vaccine. The state now ranks 33rd nationally for current HPV vaccination rates for teens, up from 47th last year.

Why it matters

The HPV vaccine is able to prevent six different types of cancer in both boys and girls.

About 8 in 10 people will get the virus at some point in their lives, and nearly 35,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with HPV-related cancer each year.

“I truly believe that I would not have gotten this cervical cancer and would have gone through everything that I would have gone through if I had had the vaccine,” said Mandy Murry, a cervical cancer survivor.

Despite the vaccine’s life-saving potential, Utah and other western mountain states had been slow to adopt it.

lessons learned

Those involved in campaigns and research to improve immunization rates in Mountain West spoke to the Tribune about successful, evidence-based tactics and messages they’ve deployed across the region.

  1. Treat each visit like a vaccination visitsaid Deanna Kepka, a researcher at Hunter Cancer Institute and leader of the Intermountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition.

  2. Focusing on the vaccine target is the advice of Murray pediatrician Dr. Neal Davis. He tells his little patients and their parents that the HPV vaccine prevents cancer. If they have additional questions about how the vaccine works and why it’s important, Davis is always ready to provide more information.

  3. involve key stakeholders also helped improve prices, Kepka said. The American Cancer Society, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah Health, and Intermountain HealthCare are all working to improve HPV immunizations in the state — from starting immunizations earlier to creating better tracking systems to ensure children get the second and do not miss third dose.

This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to finding solutions to Utah’s biggest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/11/08/how-utahns-learned-love-vaccine/ Utahns don’t always love a vaccine. Except this one.

Justin Scacco

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