ASU Students Can Get Free Cancer Vaccine

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

 Feb. 22, 2018 

  • WHAT: Angelo State University (ASU) students can receive free vaccinations against Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, during the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) Health Fair.   

  • WHEN: Monday, March 5, 10 am-2 pm (details here

  • WHERE: Houston Harte University Center, ASU Campus, San Angelo 

  • WHO: ASU, the Texas Medical Association (TMA), the Concho Valley County Medical Society (CVCMS), Shannon Clinic, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), and the ASU Student Nurses Association 

  • 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 currently infected, 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 to 100 percent effective at preventing cancer-causing HPV infections. That is why TMA, ASU, CVCMS, Shannon Clinic, TDSHS, and the ASU Student Nurses Association teamed up to offer the shots for ASU students during a health fair — for free.

“We are so excited to be able to offer the HPV vaccine to ASU students for free during our event, because when it comes down to it, this vaccine saves lives by preventing certain cancers,” said Celeste Caballero, MD, a Concho Valley CMS past-president. “The vaccine is currently not available at the student clinic and it’s costly, so this event breaks down barriers to access of this life-saving vaccine.”

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. However, 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 group recommends two doses of vaccine six months apart for boys and girls younger than 15.

The vaccination event is beneficial because many students never receive the HPV vaccination and might not have adequate access to it, according to a recent ASU graduate.

“This event connects some great organizations to ASU’s campus and will greatly benefit our ‘Ram Fam’ by offering students a cancer-preventing vaccine for free,” said Tristan Fielder, a former president of ASU’s student government association. The medical student called HPV a significant public health issue because of its connection to cancer, adding, “It has become increasingly important to educate our campus community using factual scientific evidence as opposed to discredited or unsupported information available through many social media outlets.”

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/or 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 are often 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 the 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 U.S. are low. Health reports show in 2015, 40.9 percent of Texas females got the HPV vaccinations, and just 24 percent of males had gotten the shots. Conversely, Australia has a 73-percent vaccination rate. 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 only happen if vaccination rates increase. Physicians and other health care workers believe they must continue to educate people, and host vaccine outreach events like the one at ASU, and another planned for Tyler Junior College 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 here

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.

About ASU:
ASU is a dynamic learning community located in the heart of West Texas. Ranked by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s “Best Colleges” every year since 2010, ASU offers over 100 majors and concentrations through our six colleges.

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

Local Contact: 
Lyndy Stone, Shannon Medical Center/Shannon Clinic marketing director; (325) 657-5768. 

Connect with TMA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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

Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association. www.texmed.org/BeWise

Last Updated On

April 20, 2018

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