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Moffitt receives Super Bowl LV grant to get the HPV vaccine to uninsured young adults

"It’s not just about the game but so much more," Dr. Vadaparampil said.

TAMPA, Fla. — The NFL’s big game is known for so many things; but this year with Super Bowl LV coming to Tampa, an even longer-lasting impression will be made.

“Especially with COVID and all the blows we’ve been dealt, it’s just nice to be able to focus on something that really unites us as an area and behind a team, but also behind all the efforts of people who are here day in and day out doing good for our community,” said Dr. Susan Vadaparampil, associate center director for community outreach, engagement and equity at Moffitt.

More than two dozen nonprofits in the Tampa Bay area are getting a financial boost, thanks to the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee and the NFL. 

Through its Forever 55 Legacy Microgrant Program, the host committee is distributing nearly $280,000 to 28 different nonprofits in the area. Among those selected was Moffitt Cancer Center.

“We are so excited that we received this grant from the Super Bowl LV foundation that’s going to focus on providing HPV vaccination to those that are in the HPV vaccination age range, but don’t qualify for free vaccine through the Vaccine for Children’s program,” Dr. Vadaparampil said.

With the help of their partners at Ybor Youth Clinic, they’ll identify and targeting those who are uninsured, ages 18 and above. She says the project is called Vaccinations Today for Prevention Tomorrow.

“Vaccine today for prevention tomorrow speaks volumes,” Vadaparampil said. “Get vaccinated today, reduce your risk substantially of developing cancer in your lifetime.”

Vadaparampil says Moffitt had the freedom to pick the problem and propose the solution based on our ongoing engagement with the community they serve.

“HPV is something we hear from our community as a priority over and over again,” Vadaparampil said. “Our community gets it.”

“If we can provide vaccination and screening and treatment, we have the potential to eliminate HPV related cancers, starting with cervical cancer in our lifetime,” Vadaparampil said.

She says this vaccine is essential, but the cost can be an issue for some.

“There is no other vaccine that we have for kids of this age range that prevents cancer," Vadaparampil said. “Unfortunately, the uptake rates in Florida are low and particularly for our underserved kids who have trouble accessing the vaccine due to cost. That should never be a reason.”

She says, with this grant, they can provide 35 individuals, in this age group, all three of the recommended doses of the HPV vaccination, free of charge. And although it may not seem like a lot, she says it’s a start.

“We are so fortunate to have received this grant because not only does it provide the funding to do this work, but it brings visibility to an issue and a community that’s often overlooked,” Vadaparampil said.

She says vaccinations funded by this grant are scheduled to be administered at the Ybor Youth Clinic later this spring.

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