UIW Uses Vaccination Drives to Help Prevent Cancer

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The inaugural class of the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The inaugural class of the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program at the University of the Incarnate Word.

San Antonio has the worst human papilloma virus (HPV) immunization rate among Texas cities, with less than 60 percent of 13-year-old girls and less than 40 percent of 13-year-old boys in Bexar County being vaccinated.

Such low rates guarantee more disfiguring and often lethal cancers in years to come, and both private medicine and public health agencies must do more to deliver this life-saving vaccine to our youth.

To address HPV under-vaccination and other vaccination inequities, the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM) has been spearheading school-based vaccination clinics on San Antonio’s South and West sides for the past two years. The success of this pilot program, especially in comparison to traditional public health and private approaches, has been remarkable.

In 2018, UIWSOM students and faculty administered 591 vaccines to 284 youth at four vaccination events at Southside and Southwest independent school districts. Of the vaccinations administered, 165 were HPV. Parental refusal rate was an astoundingly low 3 percent, compared to the 87 percent cited in traditional public and private clinical settings.

The HPV vaccine is the only cancer-preventing vaccine developed to date. It blocks HPV infections, which are very common, from causing cervical cancer in women and from causing head, neck, and anogenital cancer in both sexes. In widespread use for more than a decade, HPV vaccine has proven to be both safe and effective.

Since 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended vaccinating children for HPV at age 11. Tragically, far too many children are still not getting vaccinated. The reasons for this include lack of information, misinformation, and inadequate outreach to populations most in need.

The HPV vaccine has been a difficult one to administer due to the misinformation that it promotes teenage sexual activity, its high price, and the two consecutive doses it requires, among others. Some actions aimed at addressing these concerns, such as free vaccines through the Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccine for Children program – have been successful, but UIWSOM believes reopening the conversation with parents and refocusing cancer prevention as the purpose of the HPV vaccine is also key.

The high HPV vaccination rates achieved at the UIWSOM clinics can be attributed to the time students and teachers spend answering parents and children’s questions that might otherwise not be addressed. Countering controversy and mistrust, UIWSOM aims to build trust.

These vaccine drives provide a space for patients to receive the necessary vaccinations free of charge while gaining an understanding of why they are recommended. UIW students also have the opportunity to learn how to check in patients, take histories, provide vaccine information, and connect with the community.

Organized in cooperations with the university’s School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, and Ettling Center of Civic Leadership, University Health System as well as the office of Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3), the benefits to the community and UIW’s students and faculty are among the reasons these vaccine drives have and will continue to be successful.

UIW’s founding congregation, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, began its ministry in North America to wipe out the cholera epidemic in 1867, and UIWSOM’s vaccine drives are yet another example of UIW’s continuing fidelity to that mission.


One thought on “UIW Uses Vaccination Drives to Help Prevent Cancer

  1. No offense to your cause, but is it possible that there have some serios reactions to Gardasil (and Cervarix, another HPV vaccine), including autoimmunity, brain dysfunction and infertility, have been reported in the U.S. and countries around the world and are documented in the medical literature.17 18 19 20 21 As of July 2018, there have been more than 57,000 HPV vaccine adverse events reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) since 2006, including more than 15,000 emergency room visits, 5,600 hospitalizations and 358 deaths. Reported reactions include syncope (sudden loss of consciousness), Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), seizures, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid disorders, deep vein thrombosis and blood clots, pancreatitis, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), disabling fatigue, muscle and joint pain, memory loss and speech problems.22

    In June 2006, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) publicly criticized the FDA for fast tracking Gardasil to licensure before it had been fully evaluated for serious side effects and recommended for all 11-12 year old girls by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).23 24 Merck’s pre-licensure clinical trials used an aluminum containing “placebo,” even though aluminum is an ingredient in Gardasil and can cause inflammation and nerve cell death.25

    In my opinion, not all vaccination deemed safe. Especially when government federal or state mandates it.

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