NACCHO’s human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention project supports local health departments as they identify and prepare to implement strategies to improve HPV vaccination rates. HPV is the leading cause of cervical and several other types of cancers. However, vaccination rates remain low despite the availability of an HPV vaccine. NACCHO’s award supports ten local health departments to engage locally with partners to increase HPV vaccination rates according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations and was open to select local health departments in the states with the lowest HPV vaccination rates in the country.
From March through May 2015, NACCHO led strategic action planning meetings with each of the demonstration sites and their stakeholders to identify strategies to improve HPV vaccination rates. The awardees then compiled their ideas into an action plan specific to their community. Each of the demonstration sites plans to conduct a communications campaign to raise awareness about the importance of the HPV vaccine. Additionally, sites plan to work specifically with healthcare providers to offer education about the effective strategies to increase HPV vaccination rates and ways to talk to parents and teens about the HPV vaccine. In addition to these goals, each project has identified action items addressing the unique characteristics of their community, which include the following:
- Barren River District Health Department (KY): Will be engaging 41 local school nurses to serve as advocates for HPV vaccination targeting parents.
- Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties in the Eastern Panhandle (WV): Worked with the local high school to engage students in creating videos to raise awareness about HPV and other adolescent vaccines. These videos have been played at the local health departments’ immunization clinics and staff have noticed an increase in people signing up for vaccinations after viewing the videos.
- Florida Department of Health in Broward County: Is planning a back-to-school point-of-dispensing (POD) event at the local mall. The POD event will engage Department of Health-Broward nurses to provide back-to-school immunizations for children between the ages of four and 18 and will offer the HPV vaccine for the first time this year. The program will include on-site data entry to ensure the state immunization registry (Florida SHOTS) is updated as vaccines are administered.
- Central District Health Department (ID): Has encouraged providers at their teen immunization clinic to give a strong recommendation for the HPV vaccine through grouping the HPV vaccine with other adolescent vaccines. Since issuing this charge in January, the health department’s clinic has seen a 24% increase in completion of the three-dose series of the HPV vaccine.
- Dallas County Public Health Nursing Services/Polk County Health Department (IA): Is working with the state’s Prevention and Public Health Fund project and their local Latina women’s group to promote the vaccine to young mothers who may still be eligible to receive the vaccine.
- Florida Department of Health in Duval County: Plans to engage local teenagers through a Peer Health Advocate program in the development and delivery of their HPV prevention messages and have recently identified new opportunities for improving access to immunization data.
- Knox County Health Department (TN): Conducted a listening tour at eight local pediatricians’ offices and engaged parents of patients in focus groups to find out why they are choosing not to vaccinate their children against HPV. Results from the listening tour reflected current research trends about parents’ attitudes towards the HPV vaccine.
- Prince William Health District (VA): Has established sub-groups in their HPV prevention workgroup to better utilize each member’s area of expertise. The sub-groups are targeted at provider education, school education, messaging, and enhancing data. Sub-groups will re-engage with the entire workgroup at regular intervals to ensure all group members have awareness and input to all of the project areas as they progress.
- Somerset County Department of Health (NJ): Hosted their action planning with NACCHO at their local Emergency Services Training Academy, which allowed the HPV project staff to raise awareness about the vaccine with first responders whom they normally do not have the opportunity to engage in discussion about HPV.
- Tarrant County Public Health (TX): Registered over 100 healthcare providers to attend their June 25 Vaccines for Children Provider event, where speakers addressed the importance of recommending the HPV vaccine to patients and launched a contest among providers to reward providers who improve their HPV vaccination rates the most.
Pending confirmation of funding, NACCHO plans to extend the project into a second year to support the implementation of the demonstration sites’ action plans. Stay tuned for additional HPV vaccination resources and updates from NACCHO. View NACCHO’s Guide to HPV Resources for Local Health Departments (login required) and “Increasing HPV Vaccination Rates in Males and Females” policy statement to increase HPV vaccination rates in your community.