Data provided by the WA Department of Health has revealed human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine coverage among Aboriginal adolescents in WA declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, the HPV dose 1 coverage in Perth was 73 per cent for all adolescents and 51 per cent for Aboriginal adolescents. HPV vaccination is provided in Year 7 through the school-based immunisation program. However, some students have been unable to receive their vaccine at school. Only one dose of HPV vaccine is now required for immunocompetent people under the age of 26, following changes to the routine schedule on 6 February 2023.
Public health and immunisation teams are working to support Aboriginal adolescents who have missed their HPV vaccination. An Aboriginal Health liaison officer is available at the Metropolitan Communicable Disease Control to support families by booking appointments and assisting with transport.
While adolescents are sometimes able to attend a school vaccination clinic to catch-up on their HPV vaccination, they may decide to attend a general practice or Aboriginal Medical Service. It is important to follow-up if these adolescents do not attend a booked vaccination appointment.
Checking the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) is recommended before vaccines are administered to determine if a patient has received a vaccination in a school clinic. Likewise, entering vaccines given in general practice into the AIR will ensure that school immunisation teams following up missed vaccines are aware that the adolescent has been vaccinated.
Information on the HPV vaccine is available from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.