Spotlight: The Arizona Partnership for Immunization
Partners and Programs in the Spotlight
The Arizona Partnerships for Immunization (TAPI) is a non-profit statewide coalition that was formed in response to the alarming fact that in 1993, only 43% of Arizona’s two-year-olds were fully immunized against preventable childhood diseases like measles, mumps, polio and whooping cough.
TAPI reached another defining moment with the introduction of the HPV vaccine in 2006. A vaccine to prevent HPV-related cancers shined a spotlight on the high rates of cervical cancer in Arizona. After the vaccine had been in use for a few years, Arizona still had low rates of HPV vaccine coverage. TAPI has responded to this problem by making a strong push to increase HPV vaccine uptake among Arizona preteens and teens.
TAPI’s “Protect Me with 3” campaign directed at parents of 11-12 year olds gives parents simple, actionable steps to protect their children from serious diseases including HPV-related cancers. The campaign frames the HPV vaccine as a routine vaccine that all preteens need for protection and communicates to parents that getting their children immunized is as simple as one, two, three. Preteens need one dose of the Tdap vaccine, two doses of the meningococcal vaccine, and three doses of the HPV vaccine.
“We learned from community feedback that parents in our population don’t want a long conversation with their child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine,” said Jennifer Tinney, program director of TAPI. Parents simply want clear and concise messages about the role the HPV vaccine plays in preventing cancer, she said.
One of the things TAPI has done to incentivize providers to immunize their adolescent patients is to provide awards to office practices that administer the Tdap vaccine and both doses of the meningococcal vaccine to 90 percent of their 15-year-old patients.
This year, TAPI has altered the eligibility requirements, so that providers must have administered the first dose of the HPV vaccine to 90 percent of their 15-year-old patients in addition to the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines. Next year, Tinney said that requirement will change to two doses of HPV vaccine, and the year after that, it will change to three doses until it becomes the norm for healthcare providers to give their adolescent patients full protection from HPV.
“When you have a high percentage of adolescents receiving the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines and significantly lower rates of HPV vaccine uptake, it’s obvious there have been missed opportunities,” said Tinney.
TAPI has also used continuing medical education and lunch and learn seminars to educate doctors and other healthcare professionals on the HPV vaccine.
Moving forward, Tinney said she would like to see more focus on the HPV vaccine in schools. Schools will often send home reminders to parents to get their child the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines but omit the HPV vaccine from those reminders. This sets the HPV vaccine apart from the other two vaccines, which makes parents think it’s not as important as the other two vaccines, said Tinney.
“When you ask kids if they want an extra three shots, of course they’re going to say no,” said Tinney. “But if they go in with the expectation of receiving those shots, there aren’t any surprises.”