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Successful communication strategies 

According to WHO Communication resources centre, increasing community awareness through timely, complete and appropriate communication is the key to successful and sustainable HPV vaccine introduction. With a unique target group of young girls and links to both sexual activity and cancer, the HPV vaccine calls for multifaceted communications strategies [1]. 

In part 1 of the most recent HPV communication guideline published by WHO (2017), the authors emphasize the following: 

  • changing human behaviour is a process in multiple steps: unaware of HPV vaccine; gain awareness through communication; consider HPV vaccination; take action; pro-actively vaccinate the other children; become a voice in the community 
  • communication principles (health communication should adhere to key principles and be grounded in a human rights approach) are based on the following basics: communication team; technical programme objectives; situation analysis; communication objectives; target audiences; define the right messages, and finally, mixing all elements to personalise the communication for each community; build a crisis communication plan; have a monitoring and evaluation plan, with indicators and outcomes [2]. 

Country context is very important: there is no silver bullet to achieve 90% HPV vaccination rate, but to ensure that the particularities of each country are understood, following the situation analysis and identifying the strong and weak points could be the best starting point. 

A list with the European countries reporting some of the highest HPV vaccination coverage in girls: 

  1. United Kingdom: The UK has consistently maintained high HPV vaccination coverage for girls since the introduction of the programme in 2008. As of 2021, the coverage rate for the two-dose HPV vaccine in the UK was over 80% for 12-13-year-old girls. 
  1. Denmark: Denmark has also shown impressive results in HPV vaccination coverage. In recent years, the country has achieved high vaccination rates, close to or above 90%, among eligible girls. 
  1. Norway: Norway has reported relatively high HPV vaccination coverage rates, with percentages close to or above 90% for girls eligible for the vaccine. 
  1. Sweden: Sweden has made significant progress in increasing HPV vaccination coverage, reaching rates close to or above 80% for eligible girls. 
  1. Netherlands: The Netherlands has consistently reported high HPV vaccination coverage, with percentages close to or above 80% for eligible girls. 
  1. Finland: Finland has been successful in achieving high HPV vaccination coverage, with rates close to or above 90% for eligible girls. 

UK’s case, as being the country that started the first HPV vaccination campaign in the same time as Romania (2008) 

A qualitative study from 2017, based on interviews with key experts at the national level highlighted that: “Effective planning and data management were key for successful service provision of HPV vaccination, as well as close collaboration between commissioners, service providers and data system managers, a team skill mix with experienced staff, pro-active engagement with schools and service providers equipped to respond to parental concerns.” 

UK went full in with the communication efforts to complement the vaccination effort. Here is a timeline of communication strategies and efforts regarding the HPV vaccination programme in the UK starting 2008: 

  • Educational Materials and Public Awareness: The National Health Service (NHS) and the UK government launched educational materials and public awareness campaigns to inform parents and young girls about the benefits and safety of the HPV vaccine. 
  • School-Based Vaccination Programme: The HPV vaccine was primarily administered through a school-based vaccination programme. Health professionals and school nurses played a crucial role in disseminating information and addressing concerns from students and parents. 
  • Information for Healthcare Professionals: The UK health authorities provided information and training to healthcare professionals, including general practitioners and nurses, to help them understand the vaccine's importance and address any misconceptions. 
  • Media Campaigns and Information Dissemination: The government and health authorities used various media channels, such as television, radio, newspapers, and online platforms, to reach a broader audience and promote the vaccination programme. 
  • Addressing Misinformation: In response to concerns and misinformation about the HPV vaccine's safety, health authorities actively worked to debunk myths and provide evidence-based information. 
  • Expansion to Boys: In 2019, the UK government announced the extension of the HPV vaccination programme to include boys as well. This move aimed to protect them from HPV-related diseases and reduce transmission. 
  • Community Engagement: Community engagement initiatives were implemented to involve local communities, religious leaders, and community organizations in promoting vaccination and dispelling any misconceptions. 
  • Research and Monitoring: Continuous research and monitoring of the vaccination programme's effectiveness and safety were conducted to inform future communication strategies and maintain public trust [3]. 


Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
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