TJC Students Can Get Free Cancer Vaccine

Physicians, TJC Offer Free HPV Vaccine for Students at Health Fair 

 Feb. 26, 2018 

  •  WHAT: Tyler Junior College (TJC) students can receive free vaccinations against human papillomavirus, or HPV, during the TJC Health and Wellness Expo. The HPV vaccinations will be free only for TJC students who qualify.  

  •  WHEN: Wednesday, March 7, 10 am-2 pm (details here

  •  WHERE: Apache Rooms, Rogers Student Center, TJC Campus, Tyler 

  •  WHO: TJC, the Texas Medical Association (TMA), Smith County Medical Society (SCMS), and Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health) 

  •  WHY: HPV is a sexually transmitted virus. HPV can cause several types of cancer, but the HPV vaccine can prevent the virus. Students are encouraged to get their free vaccine during the annual on-campus health fair. Without vaccination, four out of five college-age students contract HPV.   

About eight in 10 people in the United States will get HPV — short for human papillomavirus. HPV is the world’s most common sexually transmitted infection, which also can spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. Most important, it is potentially deadly, as HPV can cause several types of cancer.

More than 30,000 people get cancer from HPV every year in the United States. Thirteen of the more than 120 HPV strains cause cancer, including cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal (head and neck) cancers.

People in their teens and 20s get most of the 14 million new HPV infections each year. About 79 million Americans are infected currently, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

That is why physicians say the HPV vaccine is so important, and worthwhile: The shots are 97 percent to 100 percent effective at preventing cancer-causing HPV infections. That is why TMA, TJC, SCMS, and NET Health teamed up to offer the shots for TJC students during a health fair — for free (for TJC students who qualify).

“Having a vaccine available that can prevent so many different cancers is incredible,” said Li-Yu Mitchell, MD, a family physician and SCMS past president. “As a physician, I have always recommended the HPV series of vaccines to my patients, and as a parent, my three kids will definitely be getting the shots,” said the TMA Be Wise — ImmunizeSM Physician Advisory Panel member. “Given the benefits without significant risks, it just makes sense.”

The HPV vaccine has no known serious side effects. Older teens and people in their 20s who are sexually active still can benefit from vaccination even though the shots are most effective if given before people become sexually active. That’s because the HPV vaccination covers nine strains of the virus, so the vaccine offers protection against any strain to which the person has not been exposed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends three doses of the vaccine for those 15 and older. The agency recommends two doses of vaccine six months apart for boys and girls younger than 15.

The good news for the millions of people with HPV is that the virus is usually harmless and goes away on its own. However, others will contract cancer, and infections from some HPV strains also cause genital warts and warts on the hands and feet.

HPV-caused cancers, which can surface 20 years after the person contracted the virus, can make people very sick or die. HPV causes all cervical cancers, which often are lethal and are the world’s fourth most common cancer in women (according to the World Health Organization).

Head-and-neck cancer diagnoses have become more frequent than cervical cancer. Between 2008 and 2012, there were 11,700 cases of cervical cancer in women and 12,600 head-and-neck cancers in males, according to CDC. The agency blames about 70 percent of head-and-neck cancers on HPV. Head-and-neck cancers tend to affect mostly men, usually when they reach their 40s or 50s.

While the shot prevents cancer, HPV vaccination rates in the United States are low. Health reports show in 2015, 40.9 percent of Texas females got the HPV vaccinations, and just 24 percent of males had received the shots. Conversely, Australia has a 73-percent vaccination rate. Tyler’s adolescent vaccination rates for completion of the entire HPV series are well below Texas’ rates, hovering around 10 percent. “Our Smith County rate is abysmal,” said Dr. Mitchell. “We must do better.” Unlike other childhood vaccines, HPV shots are not mandatory here, which is partly why vaccine rates are low.

David Lakey, MD, chair of TMA’s Council on Science and Public Health and TMA’s HPV Working Group, says Texas physicians and medical institutions are working to boost HPV vaccination rates, and he sounds optimistic. “By 2030, we should be able to have a significant reduction in deaths,” said Dr. Lakey.

That will happen only if vaccination rates increase. Physicians and other health care workers believe they must continue to educate people, and are hosting vaccine outreach events like the one for students at TJC, and another planned for Angelo State University, in San Angelo next month.  

“We realize we have everything in our arsenal to eliminate cancers and we’re not doing it, given Texas’ low immunization rate,” said Lois Ramondetta, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a member of the TMA HPV Working Group. Dr. Ramondetta also serves on TMA’s Be Wise — Immunize Advisory Panel.

Find more information on HPV and vaccinations on the TMA website.

About TMA:

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 51,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. Be Wise — Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians and medical students, and the TMA Alliance. It is funded in 2018 by the TMA Foundation thanks to H-E-B, TMF Health Quality Institute, Pfizer Inc., and gifts from physicians and their families.

About TJC:
TJC offers more than 120 degree and certificate programs, plus extensive training and technical programs, and offers opportunities for students to transfer to a four-year institution or gain the skills they need to go directly into the workforce; and it is the only Texas community college to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene. TJC features a 137-acre campus, rigorous academics, 58 national championships in athletics, stellar fine and performing arts programs; modern residential facilities, and organizations and clubs that reflect student diversity. In 2017, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named TJC as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation.

Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

--30--

TMA Contacts:  
Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear@texmed.org 
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper@texmed.org  

TJC Contact:  
Lauren Tyler, TJC director of student life; (903) 510-2611; ltyl@tjc.edu

Connect with TMA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Check out MeAndMyDoctor.com for interesting and timely news on health care issues and policy. 

Last Updated On

April 20, 2018

Related Content

Be Wise Immunize | HPV | TMA Foundation