By Alyson Jordan, MPA, Communications Specialist, NACCHO
On March 26–27, NACCHO hosted the first of 10 strategic action planning meetings in Shepherdstown, WV, with health departments from Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties. Each strategic action planning meeting is focused on identifying or developing strategies to increase human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates. NACCHO’s HPV project has awarded 10 local health departments (LHDs) funding to identify strategies to improve vaccination rates for HPV, the leading cause of cervical and several other types of cancers. The award supports the selected LHDs to engage locally with healthcare providers and other partners to increase HPV vaccination rates. This action planning meeting brought together representatives from partner organizations throughout the state of West Virginia, including healthcare facilities, colleges and universities, community and faith-based organizations, and private citizens.
After a brief overview of HPV and facts about HPV vaccine use in West Virginia, participants began to outline their vision for the future of the HPV vaccine in the state’s Eastern Panhandle. Visions included increasing awareness and access to the HPV vaccine to improve vaccination rates; taking action to save lives; and establishing the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia as a leader in HPV prevention. With these visions in mind, participants moved into an environmental scan to describe the nature of the problem and existing resources and efforts to address these issues. Participants expressed concern about distrust of the medical community among their constituents and about their jurisdictions having only recently added sexual education to schools’ curricula. NACCHO staff also asked the group to identify what additional information they needed to address the issues; participants suggested a survey of parents’ attitudes and beliefs and data from healthcare providers about their discussions with patients about HPV vaccine.
Day one ended with the development of strategic focus areas to direct the group’s efforts over the next three years. These ideas included empowering people to make educated decisions and using existing resources to positively modify HPV prevention. The focus areas will guide the group toward their vision by using the existing strengths and opportunities within the community but will also address perceived weaknesses and threats to vaccine uptake.
Participants spent the final day developing components for an action plan for each strategy, identifying objectives, staffing, resources, metrics, and action steps. They outlined what could be done beginning in the first four quarters of the project (April 2015–March 2016) and in every year through 2018. Charged with tangible steps and goals, the partners will now begin to address HPV vaccination rates in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.
NACCHO recently released the Guide to HPV Resources for Local Health Departments to assist all LHDs with planning for HPV projects and vaccination campaigns; view the guide for a collection of fact sheets, webinars, infographics, print material, videos, and more. Visit NACCHO’s website to view a list of the selected LHDs and additional project updates and resources, including the policy statement “Increasing HPV Vaccination Rates in Males and Females.”