BOSTON - Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), through a partnership with school-based health centers, is bringing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) education and vaccines directly to students at New Mission High School and Boston Community Leadership Academy with a mobile vaccination clinic.
The clinic, scheduled to visit the two schools on Thursday, May 26, is part of an effort run through BPHC's Child, Adolescent, and Family Health Bureau designed to break down traditional barriers to vaccination.
"For people in our medically underserved communities, it can be more difficult to travel to a clinic or take time off of work for a doctor's appointment," said Philomena Asante, Director of BPHC's Division of Child and Adolescent Health. "With this mobile vaccination clinic, we're seeking to ease some of that burden and make vaccinating your child against HPV and its associated cancers simple."
"I thank the Boston Public Health Commission for their partnership in caring for the well-being of our students," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang. "HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, and BPHC's efforts will boost accessibility to these much-needed resources for our families."
The mobile clinic includes a fully equipped examination room staffed by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute clinical staff. As part of the vaccination effort and outreach program, Dana-Farber staff also hosts educational workshops for students and their families at the participating schools.
When the concept of the mobile clinic was first launched in January, more than 350 male and female students received sexually transmitted infection (STI) education and a dozen received vaccination. During a second visit in March, nurses vaccinated another 13 students against HPV, including several who completed the vaccination series. The van will continue to visit the partnering schools several times each school year.
Nearly 80 million people in the United States are infected with HPV, and an additional 14 million people are newly infected each year. A majority of adults will be exposed to HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection, at some point in their lives. Specific strains of the virus can cause cancers of the cervix, mouth and throat, and genitals-resulting in about 27,000 new HPV-related cancer diagnoses each year among men and women in the U.S.
The HPV vaccine, which is administered in three doses, has been proven the best protection against most HPV-related cancers, including cervical cancer. The three-dose vaccine is ideally given to boys and girls ages 11 and 12, and may be given up to age 26. Despite having higher Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunization completion rates than the national average, Massachusetts still lags far behind the Health People 2020 goal of 80 percent completion, at 50 percent completion for females and 25 percent for males in 2016.