JaxCo receives grant to promote HPV vaccine

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jan 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-06 20:12:42-05

Every year there are 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer related to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

The virus is the most common STD in the United States and there’s a vaccine that can prevent.

But teens in Kansas and Missouri have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country—including those living in Jackson County.

“There is still a huge stigma attached to the HPV vaccine. People forget this is a cancer-preventing vaccine,” said Sharon Engelman, the clinical nurse manager with the Jackson County Health Department.

In the county, only 13 percent of all females complete the HPV vaccination series—which includes three shots in six months. Nationwide, about 40 percent of all females complete the series.

This year, the health department is hoping grant money can help increase those rates.

The Jackson County Health Department was one of ten health departments nationwide to receive a $35,000 grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

“The purpose of this grant is really just to put together a plan, just a framework to guide us in the future to how best increase our rates,” said Engelman.

Kansas is also struggling with low vaccination rates.

Teenage girls have the lowest rates in the entire country, which is one reason the University of Kansas Hospital created an outreach program to target teens through technology.

“We all know the average age of HPV is 14. If we don’t talk about it, then unfortunately we are putting ourselves at risk,” said Jennifer Klemp, who is in charge of the Cancer Survivorship Training program.

HPV is known to cause cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men.