The Preteen And Teen Immunization Project (PATI)
Seizures, severe headaches, stiff neck, genital warts, cancer, or death – no parent wants to think that their middle school or high school aged child could suffer from any of these symptoms as a result of not receiving an easily accessible vaccine to prevent the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) or Meningitis.
The goal of the Preteen and Teen Immunization (PATI) project is to increase HPV and Meningococcal immunization rates among children age 11-18 in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County. In March, 2016, Providence received a 5-year $250,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Healthy Tomorrows Grant program to implement the PATI project.
Providence is now working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Immunization Program, South Bay Family Health Care, Wilmington Community Clinic, Harbor Community Clinic, Lawndale Elementary School District, Hawthorne School District, and the Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as parents and teens to increase the number of preteens and teens that receive the HPV and Meningococcal vaccines to make sure these children maintain their health through their teen years and beyond.
Why HPV and Meningitis?
1 in 4 people in our country have the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and every year, up to 1,000 people across the country contract meningococcal disease; 21% of those cases are among preteens, teens, and young adults. Unfortunately in lower income communities and in communities of color, the number of children infected with both of these infections is higher.
Early symptoms of HPV include genital warts, but the long-term outcomes are more deadly. Every year, 17,000 women and 9,000 men are affected by HPV-related cancers including cervical cancer, oropharynx (back of the throat/tongue/tonsils), and cancers of the penis, vulva, vagina, or anus. These cancers appear years or decades after having been infected with HPV. Yet, these are cancers that would have been prevented if these adults had received the HPV vaccine when they were teenagers - the one anti-cancer vaccine proven to work.
Symptoms of meningitis include sensitivity to bright light, seizures, severe headaches, and stiff neck. However, within 24 hours, the effects can be deadly; 1 in 7 teens infected with bacterial meningitis will die.
For this reason, we are working with our community partners and local residents to increase immunization rates that prevent these diseases.
Teen Interns Create an Immunization Campaign
In the summer, 2016, Providence worked with two recent high school graduates that were interning at the Harbor Community Clinic to create a social media and print campaign to increase awareness of HPV and Meningococcal vaccines among peers their age. Their Instagram campaign, “I Chose”, ran through the month of August on the clinic’s Instagram account (@harborcommclinic) and showed why local stakeholders and patients “chose” to immunize. Their print campaign, below, features a student’s school agenda and reminds teens that they already have too much too worry about, so they should get their vaccines so that they don’t have to worry about HPV and Meningitis.