To increase public and practitioner awareness of human papillomavirus (HPV), HPV-related diseases, and the importance of HPV vaccination, the U.S. observes HPV Prevention Week, January 25 – 31, 2020. Supported by numerous organizations nationally, Us vs HPV Week includes a series of webinars, social media campaigns, and local events to increase knowledge of HPV and confidence in the protective benefits of the vaccine.
HPV is a commonly transmitted infection in the U.S; nearly 80 million people are currently infected, and every year there are approximately 14 million new infections. HPV infection is a leading cause of cervical cancer and a contributing factor to cancers of the anus, vagina, vulva, penis, and throat.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination of individuals aged 11–12 years to protect against certain diseases, including HPV-associated cancers. Data from the 2018 National Immunization Survey (NIS) – Teen reveal that among teens aged 13-17 years, coverage with ≥1 dose of HPV vaccine was 68.1%, and 51.1% were considered up-to-date with the HPV vaccine series. Though rates have increased, vaccination coverage remains less than optimal and disparities persist by geographic location and health insurance status.
The Important Role of Local Health Departments (LHD) in HPV Prevention
Local public health agencies across the country have made significant efforts to increase uptake and access to HPV vaccination services and counseling. Over the years, NACCHO, through the Model Practices program, has specifically recognized several local health departments (LHDs) in Florida that have implemented successful efforts to increase HPV vaccination within their jurisdictions.
- Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County – HPV Ambassador Program: A Collaborative Approach to Increasing Vaccination Uptake: Through a collaboration with Partners Immunizing Towards Community Health (PITCH), the LHD implemented “HPV Ambassador” trainings and initiated the “Ask Me About HPV!” program in January 2018. Trainings for community members included a 2.5-hour educational class using CDC’s “You Are the Key to HPV Cancer Prevention,” Someone You Love documentary, and other HPV resources and tools. In addition, the LHD hosted trainings in hospitals, churches, and other community facilities to introduce healthcare professionals to the “Same Way/Same Day” method to learn how to effectively recommend adolescent vaccination. Upon completion of the training, participants received the “HPV Ambassador” title and were encouraged to educate other community members about HPV.
- Florida Department of Health in Broward County – Providing HPV Vaccine as Part of Routine Immunization to Increase HPV Vaccination Rates: The LHD conducts an annual back-to-school immunization point of dispensing (POD) clinic to provide required vaccines to children. For the first time in 2015, the LHD provided the HPV vaccine during the back-to-school POD operations clinic and continued to do so during the 2016 clinic. During the 2016 POD, 1,640 doses of HPV vaccine were administered which represented an 82% increase from the previous year. In addition, the LHD created HPV palm cards and distributed over 5,000 to healthcare providers and the community. The success of this initiative was due to training immunization nurses on how to talk to parents about HPV and the willingness of the nurses to implement the new methods.
- Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County – Increase HPV Immunization for Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County Clients: The LHD began an initiative to increase the acceptance rate of the HPV vaccine within the immunization clinic to greater than 75% of all HPV eligible children. The plan included retraining all nursing staff to utilize the CDC’s evidence-based methodology for an effective recommendation to clients, as well providing nursing staff with tools for addressing parental concerns. The plan also included collaborating with the school district to ensure standardized messaging as well as facilitation of needed vaccinations. As a result of this effort, the health department was able to increase the percentage of HPV-eligible children who received the vaccine and exceeded the goal of 75%. The success of the initiative resulted from a multi-pronged approach to retraining the nursing staff, which included attendance at a two-day St. Johns HPV Summit, follow-up presentations by subject matter experts as well as an individual personally impacted by cervical cancer, and weekly “role-playing” exercises as a part of staff meetings.
To learn about the many local public health practices implemented across the country, including HPV prevention, visit NACCHO’s Model Practices Program. For additional information about HPV Prevention Week and to access the many resources and tools available to promote the importance of the week, visit the US vs. HPV Week webpage.