Lansing pediatric office emphasizes the importance of HPV vaccines

Tina Stevens and patient Mari Lamb

Pediatric Care of Lansing treats HPV vaccines as a part of all adolescent immunizations. That philosophy, along with checking patient immunization records at each visit, helps the practice maintain a high rate of HPV vaccination among both male and female adolescent patients.

“We pull MCIR records on every patient regardless of whether they’re coming in for a sick visit or a physical,” says Tina Stevens, medical assistant for the practice. “We also give reminder cards to parents when their children get a first dose to remind them of when the second and third doses are due.”

For patients the practice doesn’t see regularly, the medical assistants sometimes mail reminder cards telling them which immunizations are due. “Sometimes parents who don't bring their children regularly aren’t aware that their kids didn’t receive all their immunizations,” says Stevens.

"Sometimes the state of Michigan sends immunization records to parents to inform them of immunizations their child hasn't received," she continued. "We receive calls from parents who believed their child was up-to-date on his or her shots. We explain that even though HPV vaccine is not required, it is still highly recommended by our doctors. These reminders can start a dialogue about the HPV vaccine."

The pediatric practice and its doctors maintain a focus on immunizations. Doctors and medical assistants educate parents by giving them a brief overview and making sure they have information sheets on the vaccines that are due. It’s not an overly aggressive push. “But we are doing something right,” says Stevens. “More than half of our adolescent patients have received all three doses of the vaccine.”

Stevens says the practice hasn’t experienced any barriers to vaccinating for HPV because they promote several vaccines together. “We tell parents, ‘Your child is due for meningococcal, HPV and Tdap.’ We ask if they know what those vaccines are and sometimes we get questions specifically about the HPV vaccine. It’s a little easier now that the HEDIS® measure looks at those three vaccines together instead of the HPV as a separate measure.”

Stevens says providing the HPV vaccine is also easier now that the recommendations have changed for HPV and only two doses are required if the child gets his or her vaccine at the recommended age between 9 and 14.

When a parent is unsure about starting the vaccine series for a child, one of the doctors in the practice, David Lipsitz, M.D., says he personalizes the conversation. "I emphasize this is one of the few vaccines to prevent cancers. 'Wouldn't you want your child to receive a vaccine that could help prevent cancer?'" he explains. Dr. Lipsitz also noted that studies done over the past 10 years that the vaccine has been available show a decrease in cervical cancer.

HEDIS® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance.