Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How we talk to parents about HPV vaccine is important

The way health professionals talk about the human papilloma virus vaccine can improve the chances that parents will agree to immunize their children.

That was the experience of the Florida Department of Health in Broward County during its annual back-to-school immunization campaign in August.

DOH-Broward nurses nearly doubled the number of HPV shots they gave during the 2016 campaign at Lauderhill Mall, by simply telling parents that HPV vaccine protects kids against cancer.

“When HPV becomes a part of routine vaccination and is presented as cancer prevention, parents are more apt to agree to the vaccination for their child,” DOH-Broward staff wrote in a summary on the success of the practice.

HPV vaccine is given to boys and girls starting at age 11. During the mall campaign, DOH-Broward vaccinated 1,640 children for HPV, vs. 903 in 2015, the first year it was offered. That’s an 82 percent jump. Of those, 1,256 were initial doses, 228 were second doses and 156 were third doses.
HPV vaccine is not required for school admission, and some parents hesitate to say yes because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. Federal data from 2013 rank Florida among the lowest in HPV vaccinations, with 39.4 percent of females receiving one dose.

But reframing the conversation helped.

“The success of this practice was due to training immunization nurses on how to talk to parents about HPV and willingness of nurses to implement these new methods,” says
Terri Sudden, Director of Public Health Preparedness and Response. She will give a presentation on the approach at a statewide immunization conference.

The same approach helped increase HPV vaccine rates at DOH-Broward clinics, which gave 2,577 doses last year, almost triple the 869 given in 2015.

Offering HPV vaccine at DOH-Broward settings is part of a three-pronged project DOH-Broward began in 2015.

The other parts involve training medical professionals to pro-mote the vaccine routinely, and to distribute educational palm cards in the community (over 5,000 so far). The project continues this year.