Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Partners and Programs in the Spotlight

Immunizing adolescents with recommended vaccines, including human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, has been a longstanding priority for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Over the past few years, MDHHS staff and leaders have launched several programs to help increase vaccinations in their state, but they wanted to do more. In 2013, Michigan applied to CDC for a Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) award to increase HPV vaccination rates among adolescents. Since receiving an award in 2014, Michigan has used the funding to conduct activities in five required areas with the goal of achieving an even greater impact on HPV vaccination rates.

“We were able to move forward on all of our initiatives with this grant,” said Bob Swanson, Director of the MDHHS Division of Immunization. “The grant gave us the resources our team needed to reach our overall goals.”

With the additional resources in place, MDHHS was able to tackle a number of key initiatives to impact HPV vaccination rates including using the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) for reminder/recall systems, education and training for providers, stakeholder engagement and planning, and increasing awareness to consumer audiences.

The comprehensive communication campaign focused both on health care providers and general public audiences. With the need for a provider recommendation for HPV vaccinations, MDHHS will include an HPV vaccination presentation at all eight of their fall regional conferences. The presentation titled, “Recommending HPV Vaccination: What are the magic words?” will reach about 1,800 health care workers and feature one of their physician champions.

For public audiences, the objective was to encourage parents to get their children the HPV vaccine by increasing awareness of how HPV vaccination can reduce the risk of many types of HPV cancers. With this objective in mind, MDHHS launched a full digital and print media campaign that targeted women with children aged 11 through 18 years. Without a budget for formative research, the state was able to leverage national data to develop key messages that would resonate with their target audiences. Using a sports-related theme with messages such as “Have you done all you can do to protect your child?” and “Give them a shot at beating cancer,” the digital ads received almost 2 million impressions.

Engaging key stakeholders was also critical to the impact of this campaign. MDHHS worked with health systems, insurance plan providers, clinician offices, local health departments, and Medicaid to facilitate collaboration to defeat barriers to immunization. During AFIX meetings with physician offices, they discussed best practices, shared resources, and brainstormed on ways they could encourage and help both clinicians and parents to understand the importance of HPV vaccination.

The grant also helped the MDHSS kick off their first statewide reminder/recall effort. The state saw an increase in second and third dose HPV vaccinations due to the reminders/recalls. The PPHF funding allowed MDHHS to use their IIS, MCIR, for a centralized system that made it easier to capture returned mail and make instant address updates.

“We wanted to improve our overall recall practice and make it more sustainable, said Stephanie Sanchez, MDHHS AFIX Quality Improvement Coordinator. “By cleaning up the data and flagging returned addresses, we were able to reduce labor and time while reaching more families.”

Although the PPHF funding used for the completion of the required HPV vaccine coverage improvement activities will have been expended over the next few months, MDHHS has developed solid communication and program approaches to ensure sustainability of their initiatives. This legacy will continue to increase vaccinations for years to come.

More about MDDHS’s resources.