HPV Vaccination Plan Garners Award from Jewish Healthcare Foundation

By: Colleen Zewe

Thanks to their extraordinary efforts to increase the rate of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines administered in their office, the team at UPMC St. Margaret Bloomfield-Garfield Family Health Center (FHC) will receive a Special Recognition Award from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation 2016 Fine Awards.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation has launched an initiative to increase the rate of HPV vaccination in the Pittsburgh region and dispel myths surrounding the vaccine. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. A vaccine is available, but optional, and it requires a series of three shots.

The FHC is receiving a $5,000 award for their “Sensational HPV Vaccination Trial,” a campaign to teach parents, children and adolescents about the importance of the vaccine and to increase the rate of HPV vaccines administered at their practice.

“Our family medicine staff, resident physicians and pharmacists have creatively worked together to give timely HPV vaccinations, immediate, fun notices and rewards and the achievable long-term rewards of health promotion, reduced genital warts and diminished cancer risk,” said Dr. Ann McGaffey, medical director of the FHC. “Our approach helps parents and youth understand the safety, efficacy, optimal time to vaccinate, and cancer reduction promise of the HPV vaccination series.”

Because the vaccine is optional, many patients don’t bother, or fail to receive, all three vaccine shots. Based on a focus group, only 33 percent of patients reported receiving or discussing the vaccine with parents or doctors. A couple of the ways FHC staff are reversing this trend include staff members wearing T-shirts encouraging vaccinations on HPV Fridays, and waiting room signage that features a poster contest called “Guarding Your Health with HPV Vaccine.” Additionally, Nicole Payette, Pharm.D., discovered that record reviews and text message reminders about when the next shot is due helped ensure adolescents not only received the vaccine, but completed the full sequence of shots.

Furthermore, they found that sensory rewards would help motivate patients to complete the vaccine sequence. Rewards such as ringing a gong, chewing gum, LED-bling rings, or playing with putty are offered to all HPV vaccine recipients. Occasionally, Trish Klatt, Pharm.D., brings in her therapy and HPV prevention dog, Max, to play with children receiving the vaccine.

The efforts at the FHC have helped more teens in the Pittsburgh area receive the vaccine. Not only have they seen an increase in how many patients receive the vaccine, they also surpassed their vaccination rate goal.

Dr. McGaffey and her team will be presented with the $5,000 award on Aug. 29 at the Centre City Tower.