Describe Ontario’s school-based human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program from the perspective of local public health units (PHUs).

VPD managers at each of Ontario’s 35 PHUs were invited to participate in an online survey regarding the organization and delivery of their HPV vaccination program. Questions were asked on the school-based program, training and support of vaccine providers, communication and promotion, assessing coverage rates, and perceptions of the program’s strengths and challenges. Researchers generated descriptive statistics for close-ended items. Researchers performed a thematic content analysis for open-ended items.

Eighteen PHUs responded. All responding PHUs provided the HPV vaccine in publicly funded schools, but only six reported being permitted to provide HPV vaccine in private schools. Fact sheets, Q&As, or other written information locally developed by the PHUs were the main tools used to communicate with parents, students, school personnel, and school board officials. The most frequently reported barriers were: limited program resources, negative perceptions held by parents and school staff regarding the HPV vaccine, logistical issues, and the fact that HPV vaccination is not mandatory under Ontario legislation.

Local public health units that implement HPV vaccine programs in schools identified logistical barriers, public perceptions about the HPV vaccine, and the program’s voluntary nature as the main barriers.