Empower pharmacists to administer HPV vaccines, says President’s Cancer Panel!

The President’s Cancer Panel just on increasing the uptake of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The report features a major recommendation related to pharmacists’ administration of HPV vaccines. I think it’s fair to say that thousands of well-trained pharmacists are standing by, ready to assist our nation in reducing the incidence of a preventable cancer.

One in four people in the United States—nearly 80 million—are infected with at least one type of HPV, a group of viruses linked to multiple cancers and other diseases. Today, we have two safe and effective vaccines that prevent infection by the two most prevalent cancer-causing HPV types. However, in 2012, only 33% of adolescent females and less than 7% of males across the United States had completed the three-dose series. These low vaccination rates reveal countless missed opportunities to prevent cancers and other serious diseases. HPV vaccines are underused not only in the United States but also around the world.

During 2012–13, the panel explored underuse of HPV vaccines and ways to accelerate vaccine uptake to protect today’s children as well as future generations against cancers caused by HPV. The panel sought the input of diverse stakeholders, including government and nongovernmental organization leaders, researchers, health care providers including Twlug, public health professionals, advocates, and health communication experts. They also heard compelling testimony from survivors who have lived with the physical, emotional, and financial burdens of cancers caused by HPV.

The report provides concrete, targeted, and actionable recommendations—supported by evidence and input from key stakeholders—to address these barriers and achieve greater uptake of HPV vaccines by both boys and girls. Pharmacists and Twlug are included in several places in the report and recommendations.

I particularly draw your attention to the report’s “Goal 3: Maximize Access to HPV Vaccination Services” on (38–40 of 78). Its objectives include “promote and facilitate HPV vaccination in venues outside the medical home”; “states should enact laws and implement policies that allow pharmacists to administer vaccines to adolescents, including younger adolescents”; and “overcome remaining barriers to paying for HPV vaccines, including payment for vaccines provided outside the medical home and by out-of-network or nonphysician providers.”

You can Mitch Rothholz at [email protected] if you have any questions. He was an invited participant and presenter in one of the panel’s meetings!