College students must make a lot of decisions for themselves. For students at Angelo State University (ASU) in San Angelo, the decision to get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) came easier thanks to the Concho Valley County Medical Society and TMA’s Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program.
Celeste Caballero, MD, a San Angelo pediatrician, spearheaded the HPV shot clinic last spring at a campus health fair. The event was such a success the county society is planning another one this year.
“The TMA Local Impact Grant has meant everything to our medical society in planning our HPV vaccine event,” said Dr. Caballero. “We applied for the grant again this year as it gave us credibility and momentum when we reached out to community partners who happily agreed to match the grant.”
Tristan Fielder (Above center), a first-year medical student at the UT Health San Antonio Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at , also was instrumental in getting last year’s event off the ground.
While he was an undergraduate at ASU, Mr. Fielder reached out to Dr. Caballero about a joint medical society/ASU health project, and the HPV project was born. That project soon morphed into a community affair.
Angelo State University along with its campus health provider, Shannon Clinic; ASU nursing students; the ASU Student Government Association; Esperanza Clinic; the Texas Department of State Health Services; and the American Cancer Society all contributed to last year’s event. Many will participate again this year, with the addition of San Angelo Community Medical Center.
Because of last year’s event, Angelo State’s student clinic now permanently stocks the HPV vaccine, which had not been available before, said Dr. Caballero. In addition, she said, “We have educated students — future parents and opinion leaders in Texas — on the importance of HPV vaccination. And we have saved lives because of our efforts vaccinating students.”
According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and there are 14 million new infections each year — mostly among people in their teens and 20s. Most cases of HPV resolve on their own. If an HPV infection does show symptoms, it’s usually a case of genital warts or warts on the hands and feet.
But in other cases, HPV can cause cancer. Of at least 120 strains of HPV, 13 of them cause cancer. They are responsible for many cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal (head and neck) cancers. HPV is the direct cause of virtually all cases of cervical cancer.
You can help your community prevent disease by hosting a clinic in your town. Use the new TMA Foundation Online Grant Interface to submit a Be Wise grant application by March 1 for vaccination events in the summer or later. TMA physicians/clinics, medical students, county medical societies, and TMA Alliance chapters are eligible to receive a Be Wise Local Impact Grant of up to $2,500.
Grantees have up to 12 months to use the funds. TMA will accept applications again on June 1 for shot clinics in the fall and winter.
For help planning your free or low-cost vaccination event, check out the Be Wise — Immunize Quick Start Manual: A Step-by-Step Vaccination Outreach Guide and Be Wise Event Ideas.
TMA actively works to improve vaccination rates in Texas through its Be Wise program. More than 360,000 shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults since the program began in 2004.
For more information on HPV, including tips on how to discuss the vaccination with patients and parents, see TMA’s online HPV Resource Center.
Be Wise – Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians, medical students, and the TMA Alliance. It is funded in 2019 by the Texas Medical Association Foundation thanks to H-E-B, TMF Health Quality Institute, Pfizer Inc., and gifts from physicians and their families.
Be Wise — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.