Georgia Department of Health

Partners and Programs in the Spotlight

Georgia is one of a number of states that has done a significant amount of work on the HPV vaccination front. Through a grant from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), the Georgia Department of Health (GDPH) has led a number of activities to combat low HPV vaccination rates such as engaging key stakeholders, educating clinicians, setting up reminder-recall systems, and raising consumer awareness about the importance of HPV vaccination.

Chief among these activities was establishing a joint initiative of crucial stakeholders, which includes the state immunization coalitions, cancer control programs, county and local health districts, school nurses association, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) chapter, and department of education.

As part of the Georgia Cancer Control Consortium, GDPH helped establish a state cancer control plan with one of the major goals of the plan being to increase HPV vaccination rates.

GPDH works closely with its state AAP chapter to encourage clinicians to give a clear, concise, and effective recommendation for HPV vaccine at the recommended ages. For instance, GDPH has worked with AAP to host a number of webinars educating clinicians on HPV vaccine and adolescent immunizations in general.

Although GDPH no longer receives PPHF funding, it continues to lead a number of the same activities. For instance, Assessment, Feedback, Incentives, eXchange (AFIX) is a strategy GPDH found to be cost-effective in raising HPV vaccination rates. Using Vaccines for Children (VFC) data, GDPH was able to determine the number of doses of HPV vaccine distributed and compare that to the number of doses of Tdap vaccine distributed.

“AFIX gives us the chance to take a step back and assess how we’re doing as a state with regard to HPV vaccine coverage,” said Sheila Lovett, Interim Director for Georgia Immunization Program. “This strategy has allowed us to identify areas or practices that need improvement.”

Reminder-recall is another crucial strategy that GDPH continues to employ to encourage HPV vaccine series completion. Based on state immunization registry data, phone and text reminders are sent to parents of children overdue for their third dose of HPV vaccine.

GDPH also ran an advertising campaign, which included HPV PSAs on Pandora and Atlanta radio stations as well as HPV posters on public transit vehicles in Atlanta.

GDPH also hosts an annual statewide immunization conference. This 2014 conference included an HPV vaccine talk by a gynecologist titled “Don’t Let Your Patients Become My Patients” to stress the importance of HPV vaccination at the recommended ages to pediatricians and family physicians.

“Although a clinician recommendation is crucial to getting parents to get HPV vaccine for their child, it’s also important to remember how influential other clinicians, such as gynecologists and oncologists, can be on encouraging pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and family physicians to make an effective recommendation ,” said Lovett.