As the world anxiously awaits the development of a vaccine against COVID-19, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health (DPH) is helping to make sure area teens are vaccinated against a virus for which a vaccine does exist.
DPH leaders are presenting the use of community-based strategies to reduce the risk of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and prevent cervical cancer through vaccination during the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases 2020 Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research later this week.
HPV is the highest sexually transmitted infection with one in four teens affected and approximately 80 million cases diagnosed each year. Additionally, Hispanics have higher rates of HPV cancers and meeting the needs of residents in El Paso has been a top priority.
“In 2018 we began a partnership with organizations and agencies in El Paso to determine who had not been vaccinated and then went further to provide easy access, on-site vaccination to area youth,” said Claudia Lozano, Medicaid Waiver Program Manager. “This included local middle and high schools, college campuses, recreation centers, and faith based organizations.”
As a result of the community-based efforts, the City experienced a 55 percent increase in HPV vaccination rates.
Lozano plans to share best practices such as using a voucher system to track referrals from schools and community organizations; providing mobile, on-site vaccination events; and the importance of tailoring health messaging to teenagers.
More than 1,100 participants have been screened and assessed as a part of the project and so far, nearly half of the patients have returned to complete their HPV vaccination in a 3-dose series.