Washington state is down 13% overall in the number of vaccines administered compared to pre-pandemic levels. The National HPV Roundtable estimates that it may take 10 years to catch up on cancer-preventing human papilloma virus (HPV) immunizations.

From the Washington HPV Free Task Force:

As we approach the busy back-to-school months of sports physicals and well-child visits, the HPV Task Force is offering providers some easy-to-use tools to help increase patients’ HPV vaccination rates. Over 50% of HPV and adolescent vaccines are given in July to October. Being prepared for those months is key to protecting patients from HPV-related cancers and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

1. Start recommending HPV vaccine at ages 9 and 10.

The HPV vaccine can be started at age 9, and doing so leads to higher rates of finishing the series on time at age 11 to 12, providing the best cancer prevention for your patients. Providers find that recommending HPV at age 9 is easier and faster to do.

2. Standardize your vaccine schedule AND post it in the lobby and every exam room.

This is important so that all providers are using the same schedule, keeping the message consistent and reducing errors and missed opportunities. A schedule on the wall gives parents something to read while they are waiting and adds legitimacy to your recommendations. Don’t have time to make a branded schedule right now? You can order free adolescent schedules (8 × 11.5 and poster size) from the HPV Task Force, and we can add your branding to it. This intervention is one of the easiest things you can do to raise your immunization rates. The order link is here.

3. Make a strong recommendation every time AND don’t miss any opportunities to vaccinate.

Research shows that a strong announcement approach is one of the best tools to increase immunization rates. Use statements like “Today you are due for one vaccine that will protect against HPV-related cancer — any questions?” or “Yes! I recommend the HPV vaccine for cancer prevention — this vaccine prevents over 30,000 cases of cancer every year.” Make sure to check the immunization status of patients at EVERY visit — don’t miss the opportunity to vaccinate.

4. Prepare the office and staff for the rush of back-to-school vaccine requests.

Consider having some “vaccine-only” nurse visit days to accommodate the back-to-school rush in August. Schedule more staff for back-to-school days or have some weekend or evening vaccine appointments. Stock up on needed vaccines, as volumes will increase.

Remember HPV vaccination is cancer prevention.

HPV Free Task Force Resources

•	Don’t wait to vaccinate poster from the American Cancer Society.

  • Protect Your Preteen/Teen With Vaccines (order free laminated posters from the HPV Free Task Force using their order form)