Study: Better integration of school and local HPV vaccine programs needed

To more effectively combat the human papillomavirus, schools need better integration of extramural vaccine programs with existing local healthcare, according to a recent study. Kim A. Hayes, a public health analyst at RTI International in North Carolina, and her team evaluated five school-located vaccination programs that offer HPV vaccines in U.S. schools without health centers. The team conducted interviews with program representatives between July 2010 and August 2010 to learn more about the programs' planning, implementation, configuration and effectiveness. The study found that most of the extramural programs did not have a mechanism to bill private insurance and some representatives had difficulty obtaining Medicaid reimbursements. The programs that were the most effective were those that offered more than just the HPV vaccine as part of a broader effort to increase uptake of adolescent vaccines. The respondents said that a particularly important aspect of the programs was the development of partnerships with local school systems for all aspects of planning and implementation. Hayes and her team concluded that extramural programs can increase vaccine uptake and decrease absenteeism due to failure to comply with school entry vaccine requirements. The study found that until the programs receive better access to Medicaid and private insurance funding, the programs' sustainability relies on grant funding. The study was published on January 18 in the Journal of School Health.