Recently, more than 450 people took part in a back-to-school block party at City Drugs of Grove Hill, a town of less than 1,500 in Clarke County, Alabama. Amid the face painting, school supply raffle, shaved ice and inflatables, the event sought to fill a real need in the county -- get more children and youth vaccinated against humanpapillomavirus (HPV) and other diseases.

Published Aug 20th, 2019

By Carol McPhail

CMcPhail@health.southalabama.edu

Recently, more than 450 people took part in a back-to-school block party at City Drugs of Grove Hill, a town of less than 1,500 in Clarke County, Alabama. Amid the face painting, school supply raffle, shaved ice and inflatables, the event sought to fill a real need in the county -- get more children and youth vaccinated against humanpapillomavirus (HPV) and other diseases.

The event was a great opportunity to do something special and fun for the community while offering extremely important vaccines and education,” said Casey L. Daniel, Ph.D., a cancer researcher and assistant professor of family medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

Daniel organized the event as part of the kickoff to a pilot study to increase rates of HPV vaccinations. Her team partnered with a local community pharmacy, City Drugs, which joined Vaccines for Children, a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost for children whose families are unable to pay. Almost 70 percent of children in Clarke County are Medicaid-eligible.

“Clarke County has the lowest HPV vaccination rate in the state,” Daniel said. “Through our work on this study we have created a new, local access point where these children can be vaccinated, which is so important because the HPV vaccine can protect adolescents against six different cancers.”

In the two weeks since the event, 84 vaccinations, including 28 against HPV, were administered. “Families in Clarke County now have new pharmacy option where they can receive the HPV vaccine and other vaccines in a very convenient setting with longer hours, given by a healthcare provider they know and trust,” she said. “We are confident that this will increase education, awareness and vaccination rates in Clarke County, and hope to expand this model to other counties soon.”

Pharmacist Stacie Turberville, PharmD, owner of City Drugs, said she is passionate about the importance of vaccinations. “As a mother, I want every child to be protected against disease and, in the case of the HPV vaccine, protected against cancer,” Turberville said. “Pharmacists are both very knowledgeable about immunizations and highly trained in vaccine administration. Our profession can help to fill this need.”

Volunteering at the block party were several medical students from the USA College of Medicine and seniors USA’s Honors College, who provided education about HPV and the HPV vaccine to families. A local dentist, Pine Belt Dental, provided bags with free toothbrushes, toothpastes and dental floss.

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