November 10, 2015

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine: A shot we can all sing about



With help from the Group Health Foundation, GHRI’s Nora Henrikson and team are finding fun and effective ways to spread the word about HPV vaccine.

by Nora Henrikson, PhD, MPH, Research Associate, Group Health Research Institute

Most parents of preteens I know are eager to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for their sons and daughters once they learn about it. A vaccine that can prevent cancer later in life? I certainly want that for my own kids.

The trouble is, not enough parents know about the vaccine or about how common HPV infection is by adulthood. Once they do, finding time in their kids’ busy lives for the three shots needed for full protection can be a real challenge.

That’s why our group at Group Health Research Institute is working with Group Health’s Immunization Team on an HPV vaccine quality-improvement project.  With funding from the Group Health Foundation, we’re testing ways to help more Group Health families talk with their doctors and hopefully get the first shot—then help them remember to return two more times in six months for the other doses.  

It’s been a great project on many levels: 

  • One, if we’re successful, we may be saving lives. More than 27,000 people get cancer caused by HPV each year. (That’s one every 20 minutes.) Alarmingly, incidence of some types of HPV-related cancer is increasing. But clinical trials have shown that the HPV vaccine provides almost 100 percent protection against the most dangerous types of the virus. You can learn more at our HPV vaccine Web page.
  • Two, we’re learning how to best reach out to busy families. We are testing whether sending educational resources followed up by interactive voice response (IVR) phone calls or text messaging reminders improves HPV vaccine coverage.
  • And three, we are exploring fun ways to educate families about the vaccine. We made a music video, featuring an original song written and performed by a former GHRI scientist with colleagues from GHRI. We hope you’ll take a look, because we believe a cancer-prevention vaccine is well worth singing about.

Live Healthy


The HPV vaccine: Cancer prevention for girls and boys

To help you understand the HPV vaccine, Group Health Research Institute is teaming up with the Group Health Immunization Team to answer frequently asked questions and suggest helpful resources.

Read about it in Live Healthy.



Get the HPV vaccine

Who would have ever thought getting vaccinated could sound so fun? 
(Vimeo, :41)

Funding for this video was provided by the Group Health Foundation.