Background and Context:
Australia was the first country in the world to introduce a fully funded, population based HPV vaccination program. The HPV vaccine has the potential to decrease 70-80% of cervical cancers in Australia, in addition to other HPV-related cancers and diseases. To achieve maximum population health benefit, high vaccine coverage of HPV-naïve teenagers is required.
Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) has undertaken a Victorian government funded project to address low human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation coverage rates in the school-based immunisation program. Statewide, uptake of the vaccine has been good with 72% of Victorian schoolgirls aged 12-13 years having the three dose vaccine. However, coverage rates across local government areas (LGA) vary considerably (43-100%).
Partnering with school-based immunisation providers is essential to addressing low HPV immunisation rates and was a key strategy for this project.
Over a three-year period (2011-2014), CCV successfully conducted a local government survey to identify the barriers and limitations to HPV immunisation in Victoria, and then worked with a systems and process focus with six pilot LGAs to improve HPV immunisation uptake. Five of the six sites demonstrated an increase in their self-reported 3-dose Council HPV immunisation coverage rates between 2011-2012 (range -1% to 19%).
Outcomes/What was learned:
HPV immunisation coverage rates are not likely to come reach desired outcomes without understanding and supporting changes to a wide range of school-based immunisation processes. This project demonstrates that by supporting immunisation providers to strengthen relationships and implement system and process changes, HPV immunisation uptake can be improved. CCV have been funded for a further 3 years to continue this work with an additional focus on increasing HPV vaccine uptake among male teens and Aboriginal teenagers.