FRANKFORT — Kentucky will start a statewide campaign July 20 to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical and oral cancer.
Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, Health and Family Services Secretary 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.
Only 27 percent of Kentucky girls ages 13 to 17 have received the recommended three doses of HPV vaccine, compared to 38 percent nationwide, and only 19 percent of state boys have received just 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.
In some, that will cause genital warts, and cervical, vulvar, penile, oral and other cancers, he said,
"The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing 70 to 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 providers about it, said Mayfield.
Women may get the vaccine through age 26 and men may 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 program helps families of eligible children who do not have access to vaccines.