Dr. TJ Schuch Receives National Recognition for Contributions to Preventing HPV Cancers

Dr. Thomas Schuch has been named HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award for outstanding efforts to protect adolescents from cancers caused by HPV in Massachusetts. South Boston Community Health Center is recognized for their efforts to achieve high HPV vaccination rates in their practice.

Led in partnership by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Association of American Cancer Institutes and the American Cancer Society, the HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award program recognizes clinicians, clinics, practices, groups and health care systems that are going above and beyond to foster HPV vaccination in their community. This year, the award program is honoring champions from 25 states.

For more than a decade as a pediatrician, Dr. TJ Schuch has championed HVP immunizations as cancer prevention, treating some of Boston's most vulnerable children and teens at the South Boston Community Health Center.

As SBCHC's Chief Information Officer, Dr. Schuch has programmed customizations to the electronic health records (EHR) at the health center to study trends in vaccine uptake, as well as create and refine clinical decision support tools to help providers improve childhood and adolescent vaccine completion rates. Specific to improving HPV vaccination rates, Dr. Schuch built an automated advisory program embedded in the EHR that flags boys and girls at age 9, to encourage providers to initiate HPV vaccination early. This prompt gives providers greater opportunity to complete the two-dose HPV vaccine series on time.

Data from his work feeds into HPV immunization research conducted at Boston University School of Medicine. Because of his innovative work, South Boston Community Health Center has a 70% vaccine completion rate for HPV immunization.

HPV vaccine is important because it protects against cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a very common virus; nearly 79 million people are currently infected in the Unites States. Every year in the U.S. nearly 35,000 women and men are estimated to be diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection. HPV vaccination could prevent more that 90% of these cancers - more than 32,000 cases a year - from ever developing. Both boys and girls should get two doses of the HPV vaccine series when they are 11 or 12 years old. The HPV vaccine series can be started as early as 9.

Each year, the award honors up to one champion from all 50 U.S. states, eight U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States, and the District of Columbia. Immunization programs submit nominations for the award in their state or territory. Nominees must be a clinician, clinic, practice, group or health system that treats adolescents as part of their overall patient population and must have an HPV vaccine series completion rate of 60% or higher for their adolescent populations.

For his innovative work with EHRs and for South Boston Community Health Center's 70% adolescent HPV vaccine completion rate, Dr. Schuch is Massachusetts's 2019 HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention Champion.

All of us at SBCHC are incredibly proud of Dr. Schuch!