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Big improvement in HPV immunisation rates

Media Release
23 August 2012

Big improvement in HPV immunisation rates

Good communication with schools, careful co-ordination with rural GP visits, and collaboration with the Cervical Screening Programme has resulted in much-improved immunisation rates on the Coast for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

The HPV Immunisation Programme aims to protect young women from HPV infection and the risk of developing cervical cancer. Around 160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 60 women die from it each year in New Zealand.

Janet Hogan, the West Coast DHB’s Clinical Nurse Manager Immunisation, said in the last year 163 Year 8 girls (aged around 12-13) were identified through the programme with 83 consenting to vaccination. All had had their first dose and all but four, their second (although not yet overdue).

“That means that this year we are on target to reach close to 50 per cent, compared with last year’s result, of 34 percent.” Fifty percent is around the national average, with the national target 70 percent.

West Coast DHB CE David Meates says under its cancer objectives, the DHB is committed to supporting the national HPV Vaccination Programme and improving uptake rates as part of working to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer over time.

Since the introduction of the HPV immunisation programme and given the diverse nature of the region, Janet says the approach to HPV vaccination has always been through a mixed model of delivery.

“For example, in isolated areas like South Westland the Rural Nurse Specialists coordinate with parents to make sure the girls – and there may be only one or two - come into the Rural Health Clinic to be vaccinated on the day the doctor is in the community.”

Janet also manages the region’s cervical screening programme “and this has been a real bonus, because I’ve been able to change ‘hats’ when needed, and discuss the risk of cervical cancer and the benefits of both programmes”.
Good coordination is needed with schools to ensure visits do not clash with events such as school sports days, Janet says.

“A close working relationship between the Immunisation Service and the Public Health Nurses make it an easy process to vaccinate in the schools”. Good communication is the key, with the school and the families. We have found that, as an example, when we send letters to the schools for information on the next year’s Year 8 girls, we need to identify what language is normally spoken at home.”

Janet believes the programme is being normalised in schools now “and the girls expect the vaccination and the chocolate that follows”.
A process has been put in place to help girls with a genuine needle phobia, which is working very well.

Our next plan is to make a little gift pack for their third vaccination”, Janet said, as a further move to reach the national target.

• If the opportunity to be vaccinated through the school based programme at Year 8 is not taken up; young women have until their 20th birthday to start the HPV immunisation programme. This is available to them through their Primary Practice or Family Planning and unlike school based programmes, parental consent is not required.


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