Area Colleges to Offer Students Cancer-Preventing Shots

Sept. 4, 2018

 Physicians, TJC Offer Free HPV Vaccine for Students; Area Shot Rate “Abysmal”  

  • WHAT: Tyler Junior College (TJC) students can receive free vaccinations against human papillomavirus, or HPV — which causes several cancers — on campus next week. The HPV vaccinations will be free for TJC students who qualify. The University of Texas at Tyler will host a similar event for its students next week as well.    
  • WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 11, 10 am-2 pm  (See details.) 
  • WHERE: TJC’s Rogers Student Center, second floor 
  • 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 urged to get their free vaccine during this on-campus event. 

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

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 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 to TJC students for free (for TJC students who qualify).

“It is incredible to have a vaccine that can prevent so many different cancers,” 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, I definitely will get my children 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, offering 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.

For many fortunate people with HPV, the virus is 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 men, 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 HPV series are well below Texas’ rates, hovering around 10 percent. “Our Smith County vaccination rate is abysmal,” said Dr. Mitchell. “We must do better.” Unlike other childhood vaccines, HPV shots are not mandatory, which is partly why vaccine rates are low.

Lifesaving vaccination rates must increase, physicians say. Doctors 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 at UT Tyler to help the cause.  

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 110 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: Established in 1926, TJC serves close to 12,000 students per semester, and throughout its over 92-year history, has embodied the true sense of the term “community.” The College has as a cornerstone the promises of a quality education, a vibrant student life and service to its communities.  
TJC offers more than 125 degree and certificate options, plus extensive customized training and adult and continuing education, and offers opportunities for students to transfer to senior universities or to gain the skills needed to go directly into the workforce. The College received legislative designation, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approval, and accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges, as an institution eligible to award baccalaureate degrees. 
TJC features a 137-acre campus, rigorous academics, 60 national athletic championships, stellar fine and performing arts programs, modern residential facilities, and organizations and clubs that promote student diversity. The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named TJC as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation.


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

TJC Contact:

Rebecca Sanders (903) 245-6378; rsan2[at]tjc[dot]edu

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Last Updated On

February 19, 2020