School-Based Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Program

Program Introduction

Principal Investigator: Dr. Abbey Berenson

School-based vaccination programs have demonstrated success in providing other recommended vaccines such as influenza, tetanus, and meningitis. Through our Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)-funded prevention grant in our pilot school district, Rio Grande City Consolidated Independent School District (RGCCISD, expiring this year), we demonstrated that school-based vaccination programs can dramatically improve Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination rates in the RGV, with HPV vaccine initiation rates increasing to 65.5%–69.0% and completion rates increasing to 41.5%–43.1%. in 2019, we expanded to the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) in Hidalgo County. We now cover RGCCISD and 5 new school districts across 4 counties and aim to reduce common obstacles to HPV vaccination. Overall Project Summary:

This project aims to increase HPV vaccination uptake in Starr, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, and Zapata Counties to match the 2018 National Immunization Survey (NIS)-Teen rates for Texas by expanding CPRIT activities.

Activities will include the continuation of our outreach and education campaign in Starr, Hidalgo, and Cameron Counties and expanding to Jim Hogg and Zapata Counties; school-based HPV vaccination program in six school districts; and expansion of program activities and support services (follow-up navigation, data collection, tracking, systems improvement).

Our unique model centers around a strong collaboration between academic medical institutions, county health departments, and school districts to employ school-based and community-based education events. Our evidence-based intervention provides the HPV vaccine in an alternative setting (schools) and creates support for HPV vaccination through education and outreach. Our primary goal is to increase HPV vaccine initiation and completion rates amongst students of the school districts and to increase knowledge and awareness in our local communities and healthcare providers.

  • Specific Goals: Goal 1—Increase HPV vaccine initiation and completion rates to a minimum of 59.9% and 43.5% respectively (statewide 2018 NIS-Teen HPV vaccination rates) for all students (females and males) in 16 middle schools from 6 school districts across 4 counties in the RGV.
  • Increase HPV vaccine completion rates among middle school students in each school district who initiate HPV vaccination through our school-based HPV vaccination program by 25% above baseline.
  • Goal 3—Increase knowledge and awareness of the HPV vaccine among RGV parents/guardians and healthcare providers by 25% compared to baseline.

 Significance & Impact: Our two currently funded CPRIT projects provide strong evidence supporting school-based health programs to increase HPV vaccine uptake along the Texas-Mexico border. We vaccinated both genders at the recommended ages, doubled HPV vaccination rates, addressed the target audience to improve vaccine uptake and reduce future HPV-associated cancers, worked with the migrant and rural populations, and replicated our efforts in other Texas schools.