By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Kentucky will start a statewide campaign July 20 to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against human papillomavirus, a virus that can cause cervical and oral cancer.
Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, Health and Family Services Audrey Haynes and state Public Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield announced the campaign Monday at a Capitol news conference.
Luallen said a $500,000 federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will pay for the campaign that will run through September and feature TV, radio and print ads developed by Louisville-based Doe Anderson.
The vaccine is for girls and boys.
Kentucky trails the national average of children vaccinated for the virus.
Currently, only 27 percent of Kentucky girls ages 13 to 17 have received the recommended three doses of the HPV vaccine compared to 38 percent throughout the nation, and only 19 percent of the state boys have received only one dose.
Dr. Hatim Omar, a professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine who runs an adolescent health clinic at UK, said in a statement that nearly everyone will get one or more types of HPV in his or her life.
That will cause in some, he said, genital warts, cervical, vulvar, penile, oral and other cancers.
“The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing 70-90 percent of these diseases, which makes it a no-brainer to have everyone eligible immunized,” Omar said.
The target group for the vaccine is children 11 or 12 years old. Teens who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should ask their health-care provider about it, said Mayfield.
Women can get the vaccine through age 26 and men can get vaccinated through age 21.
The vaccine includes three injections in the arm over a year.
Health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine. The Vaccines for Children programs helps families of eligible children who do not have access to vaccines.