Connecting with your Community
There is a lot that you can do to generate a buzz in your community around HPV vaccine.
Building a Coalition
- Form an advisory board of dedicated collaborators. Invite healthcare providers, insurance company leaders, health department staff, philanthropic organizations, parents, educators, community leaders, university staff and students groups, etc, to come together to plan and execute strategies for a community-wide public health campaign to increase vaccination rates.
- Engage local political figures to declare HPV a public health issue. For example, on May 3, 2016 the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the Eye & Ear Foundation, and Duquesne University Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach John Rhodes (an HPV-related oral cancer survivor and vaccination advocate) were presented with a city proclamation co-sponsored by Pittsburgh City Councilmen Dan Gilman and Corey O’Connor. City Council members also passed a resolution to declare May 3 as HPV-Related Oral Cancer Awareness Day in the city of Pittsburgh.
- Raise awareness about the importance of vaccination in your community by wearing HPV Vaccination Initiative T-shirts, or by printing other materials featuring the HPV Vaccination Initiative logo
- Create a social media presence to provide HPV vaccine awareness. Here is a social media toolkit for providers, which was developed by the George Washington University Cancer Institute.
- Host public screenings of “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic,” a documentary that tells the story of five women who have been affected by HPV-related cancers. Physicians, pharmacists, and nurses can also receive free credits for watching “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic” through the Indiana Immunization Coalition until Saturday, July 1, 2017.
- Have supporters of the vaccine write letters to the editors of local papers
My best friend, Mark Hefti, with whom I worked with on many films, told me about HPV and how it causes six cancers, including cervical cancer. I was outraged that I lived through my 20s and 30s and I knew absolutely nothing about it. How could I have not known about the most common sexually transmitted infection in America that causes cancer and is preventable!? That’s when we decided to make a film about it. — Fredrick Lumiere, director and producer of “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic”
- Engage local school districts to recommend HPV vaccination as strongly as they recommend the required vaccines for school entry. Here is a letter that school nurses can use to stress the importance of HPV vaccination to parents/guardians, and an immunization card that parents can take to their child’s doctor and share with school nurses. If you are interested in using customized versions of these materials, contact JHF Program Coordinator Sue Steele (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Ask community organizations to include HPV education in their programming to parents and youth. Here is a link for a downloadable two-lesson module for middle and high school students that was developed by Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.
- Engage youth activists to advocate for themselves and their peers
With continuing low rates of vaccination right now, some of my classmates are vulnerable to having their dreams sidelined by HPV-related cancer. With the prevalence of HPV, I wonder which one of us will be next. Is it my lab partner, the girl who sits at my lunch table, the boy would plays on the basketball team? My generation could be the generation where the adverse health effects caused by HPV are eradicated because HPV is preventable. –Ellen Pil, 16 year-old