USF Health joins U.S. Rep. Castor and CDC top immunization specialist to boost HPV vaccine campaign for teens

Tampa, FL (Aug. 12, 2014) —  U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor today hosted the nation’s top immunizations specialist Dr. Anne Schuchat, who warned that while recent outbreaks of infectious diseases have garnered international attention, the public should not forget about those infections like HPV that that can be prevented  with vaccines.  The human papilloma virus still causes thousands of deaths each year nationwide.  A safe, highly effective vaccine for boys and girls can prevent the most harmful kinds of HPV and the cancers they cause.

“The girls and boys not vaccinated can result in diseases that may not make the front page of the news, but still be very devastating,” said Dr. Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, speaking at the USF Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa, where she appeared with clinical providers and researchers from USF Health, Moffitt Cancer Center and community leaders.

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Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, addresses those gathered to bring attention to the HPV awareness campaign led by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in collaboration with USF Health, Moffitt Cancer Center and community partners.

“Florida hovers at the bottom when it comes to HPV vaccination rates,” said U.S. Rep. Castor, who earlier this month led the launch of an HPV Awareness & Action Coalition to increase vaccination rates in Tampa Bay. The coalition includes medical professionals, public health researchers and students – including many present today at CAMLS with U.S. Rep. Castor and Dr. Schuchat – to bring this critical public health initiative to the forefront through community outreach and education.

“More than 50 percent of teenage girls in Florida have not received the first dose of the HPV vaccine,” Dr. Schuchat said. She explained that while Florida is ahead of other states when it comes to infant and toddler vaccines, the state lags when it comes to the HPV vaccine and encouraged clinicians and parents to regard it as one of the three, routine vaccinations recommended for 11 and 12-year-old girls and boys. The other two vaccines are:  Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine and the Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4).

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L to R: Dr Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, and Dr. Ellen Daley, professor of community and family health at the USF College of Public Health, whose research focuses on HPV prevention.

“I applaud U.S. Rep. Castor for taking action to address the critical need to increase HPV vaccination rates across our community and our state, with the ultimate goal of preventing disease and improving health,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine. “At USF Health, we are delighted to support her vision and dedication to protecting today’s young adults from future HPV-related cancers.”

Dr. Donna Petersen, dean of the USF College of Public Health, said:  “The USF College of Public Health is honored to contribute to this HPV awareness campaign largely through the efforts of professor Dr. Ellen Daley and her research team. Their community-based work is precisely what this effort needs, because it will take all of us coming together to get the word out that prevention works. We know that HPV causes cancer and that cancer takes lives. We also know that the HPV vaccine works and that it is up to all of us to educate and reinforce these critical messages.”

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In addition to U.S. Rep. Castor and USF Public Health and its graduate students, other members of the HPV Awareness & Action Coalition include Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Baycare, American Cancer Society, Tampa Family Health Center, Hillsborough County Health Department, PITCH (Pinellas Immunization Team for Community Health), Hillsborough County Immunization Task Force, Florida Association of School Nurses, Hillsborough County Health Department, Pinellas County Health Departments, RN Cancer Guides and many more partners.

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Dr. Donna Petersen, dean of the USF College of Public Health, said: “We know that the HPV vaccine works and that it is up to all of us to educate and reinforce these critical messages.” In the background with Congresswoman Castor are several USF public health graduate students active in community outreach to promote HPV awareness.

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USF Health leader Dr. Lockwood with the CDC top immunization official Dr. Schuchat

News release by Marcia Mejia, Office of Congresswoman Kathy Castor
Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications