FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2009

CONTACT: M. “Peggy” Salisbury 908-771-5730;
Robert Rachlin 908-771-6709

 

RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital Immunization Symposium:
Reducing the Risk of Cervical
Cancer

David Litman, MD (L.) guest speaker at the RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital Fall Immunization Symposium is welcomed by Kay Young, RN, MS Union County Immunizations Center Coordinator
David Litman, MD (L.) guest speaker at the RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital Fall Immunization Symposium is welcomed by Kay Young, RN, MS Union County Immunizations Center Coordinator

Runnells Specialized Hospital of Union County recently held their fall symposium entitled: “Immunizations: Who, What, and Why? Reducing the Risk of Cervical Cancer.” Attended by over 150 Union County school and health department nurses, as well as representatives from municipal emergency management offices, the objective of the symposium was the importance of immunizing girls and women against Human Papillomaviruses (HPV’s), the viruses that can cause cervical cancer.

The symposium was sponsored by Merck and Company in partnership with the Union County’s Immunization Center, which is under the auspices of Union County’s RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital and the county’s Department of Human Services. Merck and Company are makers of Gardasil, the only vaccine currently approved for some HPV’s, including HPV 16 and HPV 18 which can lead to cervical cancer.

The featured speaker was Nathan Litman, M. D., Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Chief of Service, Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Litman is also a Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He attended the Einstein College of Medicine, completed a residency at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, and received postgraduate training in Pediatric Infectious Diseases there as well. Dr. Litman has been published in various scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Litman’s lecture stressed how vital it is for young women and girls to be vaccinated against HPV’s. According to Litman, almost ninety-nine per cent of cervical cancer is caused by HPV’s. Cervical cancer is responsible for approximately thirty-seven hundred deaths per year. Young women, in particular are susceptible to HPV’s. A major risk factor for cervical cancer from HPV’s is sexual activity at a young age. Merck’s Gardasil is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for girls and women ages nine through twenty-six. Studies in 21,000 girls and young women found the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing persistent infections caused by four severe types of HPV. The vaccine is given in a series of three injections. The second is given two months after the first, and the third is given six months after the first.

“Dr. Litman explained HPV’s and cancer. He made clear how immunization is important in preventing HPV’s. People need to get the facts and weigh the pros and cons. We believe in educating the public. RUNNELLS provides critical health education to the citizens of Union County,” stated Chester Holmes, Union County Freeholder, and liaison to the RUNNELLS Specialized Hospital Board of Managers.

The Union County Immunization Center provides free immunizations through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program to all Union County children 18 and under. Every year, thousands of Union County children are immunized at the center. The children are immunized against 16 different communicable diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, meningitis, influenza, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, varicella, pneumococcal Conjugate, Haemophilus influenzae Type b, Rota Virus, as well as HPV. The center is located at 342 Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth. It is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 AM –3:30 PM. For more information call 908 965-2734.