UAB Cancer Center creates coalition to increase HPV vaccination rates

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center has developed a statewide coalition to increase uptake of HPV vaccinations in Alabama.

hpv needle tsAs part of its ongoing efforts to serve as a leader in cancer prevention and control, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center has led the establishment of a coalition of organizations from across Alabama to address barriers and improve human papilloma virus vaccination rates in the state.

Cervical cancer is the only cancer that can be prevented through vaccination, yet HPV vaccination rates remain low. In 2014, data from the Alabama Department of Public Health showed there are significantly low rates of HPV vaccination among teens living in Alabama. Only 39 percent of adolescent girls in Alabama, between 13 and 17 years old, have received all three doses of the HPV vaccine, and only 9 percent of adolescent boys in Alabama have received the vaccine.

The Cancer Center received a support grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct an environmental scan to investigate the barriers and facilitators of HPV vaccine uptake statewide. This project gave the center an opportunity to examine current HPV vaccination efforts within the state, to strengthen partnerships and to create a statewide coalition to promote HPV vaccination uptake.

“It is critical for us to understand the barriers to HPV vaccination so that we can implement concrete strategies to promote access, acceptability and uptake of HPV vaccination,” said Isabel Scarinci, Ph.D., MPH, professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and associate director of Globalization and Cancer at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We have a great coalition with dedicated professionals who are truly committed to the elimination of this cancer among women in the United States and in Alabama.”

This project gave the center an opportunity to examine current HPV vaccination efforts within the state, to strengthen partnerships and to create a statewide coalition to promote HPV vaccination uptake.

Organizations participating in the coalition include the Alabama Chapter of the American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics-Alabama Chapter, Alabama Department of Public Health Immunization Division, Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Coalition, Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, Alabama Vaccines for Children Program, Alabama Medicaid Agency, Alabama Pharmacy Association, Alabama Child Health Improvement Alliance, Area Health Education Center-Alabama Chapter, and researchers from both UAB and the Mitchell Cancer Institute. The coalition has also counted on the support of the Immunization Services Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As a leader in cancer care in the southeastern United States, we are committed to making progress with an aggressive effort so we can achieve the best results,” Scarinci said. By coming together, coalition members have had the opportunity to share their initiatives, integrate efforts and establish a roadmap to achieve their goal of increasing use of the HPV vaccination. The UAB Cancer Center has long been a proponent of the HPV vaccine, recently joining all 69 of the nation’s top cancer centers to issue a statement in support of HPV vaccination as an effective cancer-prevention strategy.

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