Georgia Recognized for Increasing the Rate of HPV Vaccine Among Adolescent Girls

January 8, 2016

The Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) is proud to have received recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for increasing the rate of coverage for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine among adolescent girls to prevent cervical cancer. 

Sheila Lovett, director of the Georgia Immunization Program, was delighted that the state was honored for its successful efforts that supported the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Healthy People 20/20 goal of increasing vaccination coverage among adolescents.

“It’s very important to recognize Georgia for this milestone,” said Lovett. “This recognition gives value to our work in the Immunization Program. Our staff worked really hard to increase the rates for HPV coverage by joining forces with providers, parents and external partners, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, to ensure our message was shared widely.”

During 2014, vaccination coverage for HPV vaccine dose one and dose three greatly increased among Georgia females aged 13 to 17 years. During the same year, HPV vaccination coverage for Georgia males aged 13 to 17 years also increased, but not as much as the increase seen in the girls.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for all 11- and 12-year-olds girls and boys to protect against infection with the types of HPV that most commonly cause health problems. HPV vaccination is important because it prevents cancer and other diseases.

Georgia’s success at increasing the HPV rates is due largely to several initiatives throughout the state, including deep partnerships with local health departments, 1,200 Vaccine for Children (VFC) providers and the Georgia Immunization Coalition. The effort also gained momentum through an engaging HPV awareness campaign that reached Georgians through mass transit systems, radio and online platforms.

Ben Sloat, deputy director of the Georgia Immunization Program, served as the adult immunization coordinator during last year’s HPV rate increase. There were strategies implemented to reach parents and providers about the importance of the HPV vaccine.

“The immunization program will continue to work with public and private providers and other stakeholders to make clear HPV vaccination recommendations to parents of adolescents and communicate that HPV vaccination is cancer prevention,” said Sloat. “Vaccinated individuals should continue to receive age appropriate cancer screenings such as the pap smear.”

The Immunization Program staff will share the HPV rates with the medical staff to make sure that doctors and parents are aware of the importance of the HPV vaccine for adolescents.

“When Georgia immunization program consultants perform site visits with providers enrolled in the VFC program, they will assess HPV vaccination coverage levels on teens seen in the practice,” said Sloat.  “Results from the HPV assessment will be shared with doctors and nurses at the clinic.” 

For more information about the HPV vaccination and resources, visit www.cdc/gov/HPV

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