Posted by Nan Jarvis (Mountain Foothills)
A vaccine that prevents cancer?
As we know in Rotary, our work is never done, but at this spring-time of rebirth, let’s stop and celebrate our successes.
More than 7 million children under the age of five die each year from disease, malnutrition, lack of access to healthcare, and inadequate sanitation.  Although both maternal and child death rates have decreased by almost half in the past two decades, continued support is needed to sustain progress. 
Rotary’s response?  We provide immunizations and antibiotics to babies, improve access to essential medical services, and support trained health care providers for mothers and their children. Through Rotary-supported programs, women are taught how to prevent mother-to-infant HIV transmission, how to breast-feed, and how to protect themselves and their children from disease. Our projects empower the local community to take ownership of health care training programs. 
In District 5450 your Maternal and Child Health Care team has most recently focused on the exciting HPV Cancer Prevention Vaccine and other childhood vaccinations in conjunction with Drs. James Todd and Edwin Asturias, Pediatric Infectious Disease and Epidemiology specialists, the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, state legislators, and others devoted to protecting the children of Colorado.  Rotaract and Interact Clubs are being educated in hopes that they will take a lead and join the effort to save lives. 
Each year in the United States approximately 31,500 new cases of cancers associated with HPV(human papillomavirus) are diagnosed.  HPV-associated cancers include cervical cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer in women, penile cancer in men, and oral and throat cancer in both men and women. HPV-related cervical cancer alone causes about 4,170 deaths annually.
What is HPV?  HPV is a group of more than 150 viruses. It is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact and can be transmitted even when there are no visible signs of infection. It is common, around 80 million Americans are currently infected with a strain of the virus. Most individuals infected with HPV will never show signs or symptoms, and most cases go away on their own.  But some infections can persist and cause cancer.
Can HPV be prevented?  Absolutely!! There is a vaccine available now to protect against the 9 most dangerous types of HPV, including types 16 and 18 which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers.   But less than 50% of adolescents have initiated or completed the HPV vaccine series.
Who can get the vaccine?  The CDC recommends that boys and girls start the two-dose vaccine series beginning at 11 and 12 years of age, as this is when the immune response is the strongest.  Adolescents over 15 years of age should receive three doses of the vaccine.  If older teens and young adults have not received the HPV vaccine, it’s not too late!  The CDC recommends the vaccine for women up to age 26 and for men up to age 21 who have not previously started or finished the vaccine series. Please visit for more information.