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Jewish Healthcare Foundation

During National Immunization Awareness Month, Grandmothers Unite to Increase HPV Vaccinations, Fight Cancer

August 20, 2014

(Pittsburgh – August 20, 2014)  The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) today announced their partnership with the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) and the establishment of a local chapter of Grandmother Power. More than a dozen inaugural members joined JHF President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD, in an 8:30 a.m. press conference.

"Grandmother Power," said Feinstein, "is not an organization, but a movement. It is groups of activist grandmothers in countries that include Finland, the United States, Kenya, Canada, and India. They're working on separate issues in different communities, but they all have a common goal: providing a better future for grandchildren around the world."

The activist grandmothers forming the Pittsburgh chapter of Grandmother Power will work to protect Pittsburgh's grandchildren against cervical and other cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) by increasing the vaccination rate.  

Each year in the United States, an estimated 26,000 new cancers attributable to HPV occur. There are approved vaccines available to prevent them, yet low HPV vaccination rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Immunization Survey-Teen, published on July 24, estimated that only 57 percent of adolescent girls and 35 percent of adolescent boys received one or more doses of HPV vaccine (as compared to the nearly 86 percent of adolescents who had received one dose of the Tdap vaccine). Less than 38% of girls ages 13-17 — and less than 14% of boys — got the recommended three doses of the HPV vaccine.

"We know that if the HPV vaccine had been administered during standard health care visits," said Feinstein, "coverage for at least one dose could have reached over 90%. That's what we'd like to achieve for starters and then move on to completion of all three doses. Grandmother Power is an important tactic in our arsenal."

JHF has enlisted the Women and Girls Foundation, providing WGF with a grant to help establish a local Grandmother Power chapter and also to develop outreach to teens and young adults.

"My grandmothers played a critical role in my life. Each of them helped raise me, house me, and feed me. Because of that I am especially delighted that the Women and Girls Foundation is working with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation to leverage the collective wisdom and power of grandmothers to create powerful change in our community," said Heather Arnet, CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation, "Over the next year, we look forward to working with JHF to engage women and girls across the age spectrum to increase HPV vaccine awareness and vaccination rates throughout our community."

The JHF Vaccination Initiative was launched in February 2014 with grants from the JHF Endowment and the Eye & Ear Foundation, and recently, the Grable Foundation.

An advisory committee of more than two dozen clinicians, public health educators and administrators, community activists, and community organizations are working in partnership with JHF to educate parents and young adults about the HPV vaccine and the cancers.

This is not the first public health campaign JHF has undertaken. The Foundation launched Operation KidShot in 1992 in response to the Philadelphia measles outbreak during which a number of children died, immunizing nearly 6,000 children in Pittsburgh. It championed early detection and prevention of breast cancer through The Breast Test and an inaugural sponsorship of the Race for the Cure. In 2002, JHF established Working Hearts to bring attention to women's heart health. And since 1992, has been the fiscal agent for federal Ryan White, Housing and Urban Development, and special grant funds to work with HIV/Aids providers in southwestern Pennsylvania.

For more information about JHF's Vaccination Initiative, please visit www.jhf.org.

About The Jewish Healthcare Foundation

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) is a public charity that offers a unique blend of research, education, grantmaking and program management to advance the quality of clinical care and health of populations, with a focus on improving the quality, efficiency, and safety of health care. JHF and its three operating arms—the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI), Health Careers Futures (HCF), and the Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal)— are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and serve a national and global audience. JHF is also a founding member of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI). For more information, visit www.jhf.org.

David Golebiewski
Jewish Healthcare Foundation
412-594-2553 or 412-216-6305 (mobile)

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