Physicians in the Department of Family and Community Medicine are spearheading a citywide effort that encourages young adults to get vaccinated for human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Dubbed “Time to Get Vaccinated” or “Es Tiempo de Vacunarte,” the program was started by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) physicians Eribeth Penaranda, M.D., MPH, Jennifer Molokwu, M.D., MPH, and Monica Reyes, Ph.D., MPH.
HPV is responsible for most cervical cancer cases. It is also associated with cancer of the vagina, vulva, anus in women, cancer of the penis in men, as well as cancers of the oral cavity in men and women. In all, HPV causes more than 27,000 cases of cancer in men and women each year in the U.S.
HPV infection and transmission, however, can be prevented with the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for males and females ages 9-26. The vaccine is administered in three doses.
“Time to Get Vaccinated” is offering education and no-cost HPV vaccination to those who qualify. The program is targeting young adults ages 18-26 and children ages 9-17, who receive parental or guardian consent for the vaccine.
The program began in earnest in June 2015 with promotoras, or community health workers, conducting outreach to recruit, educate, and vaccinate eligible participants in El Paso County. Since then, it has built a network of community partners that include federally qualified health centers, schools, colleges, local health fairs, churches, and non-profit organizations that help facilitate the implementation of the program.
The ultimate goal of “Time to Get Vaccinated” is to decrease the number of HPV associated cancers in El Paso County, and specifically:
- Increase health care provider recommendations for the HPV vaccine;
- Increase HPV immunization among residents of El Paso County, 5,000 individual doses of the vaccine are available;
- Reach 5,000 people for education and navigation services;
- And deliver 1,650 no-cost HPV vaccines to eligible recipients.
Dr. Penaranda is seeking additional locations for education and referrals. For more information about this and other cancer prevention programs in the Department of Family and Community Medicine please call Dr. Monica Reyes at (915) 215-4979.
“Time to Get Vaccinated” is one of four cancer prevention and screening programs funded by the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) at TTUHSC El Paso.