One-Step Ahead



In New Zealand (NZ), school-based immunisation programmes have high coverage rates and reduce inequities. Auckland District Health Board is a leader for achieving national immunisation targets for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. However, constant challenges jeopardise programme effectiveness, putting children at risk of preventable communicable diseases. Modern day challenges include the influence of media communication. Significant, unregulated information regarding vaccine safety, often distributed via various media outlets, causes angst and uncertainty for families. This impacts families’ confidence, delays decision making and increases decline rates. In early 2016 there was considerable negative media coverage relating to HPV vaccination. Whilst we had a rapid response to this it still impacted on vaccination uptake. Consequently strategies were incorporated into our programme that allow us to be both proactive and reactive; focusing on different methods of engagement, information sharing and encouraging decision to vaccinate whilst simultaneously acknowledging choice. Strategies include culturally-appropriate Community Health Workers and Interpreters to support students and their families with their understanding and subsequent decision-making. This ability to provide an individualised approach as well as education in the school environment assists to increase confidence in vaccinations. Collaborative working and attention to detail has also been key; liaison with other health providers has enabled flexibility allowing families time to consider their options. A knowledgeable and confident health workforce has helped mitigate the effects of negative media messages and provides clarity for families on their options. Well planned strategies and pre-empting challenges supports maximum opportunity for uptake of HPV vaccinations in the school setting. Selected Keywords: Communicable diseases; education; communication/social media; inequity Key Messages: 1. Collaborative practice 2. Strategies of engagement 3. Importance of an informed and knowledgeable workforce


Jennifer Andrews

Auckland District Health Board

I've been a Registered Nurse for 6 years with the past 3 years being a Public Health Nurse with Auckland District Health Board. I'm very passionate about immunisations and child health, and currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health with University of Auckland.