Wide Open Spaces: Supporting HPV Vaccination in Rural Communities

Implementing a Mobile HPV Vaccination Program in South Carolina

Hollings Center Cancer Van

Pictured from left: MUSC Hollings community health van team members Mina Platt, Dr. Marvella Ford, Melanie Slan and Joan McLauren

In 2016, South Carolina had the lowest HPV vaccination rates in the United States. The Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center (MUSC HCC) senior leaders subsequently identified suboptimal rates of HPV vaccination in medically underserved communities in South Carolina. To address this major public health problem, they applied for and received funding from the Healthy Me/Healthy South Carolina program and MUSC HCC to develop a statewide community outreach and engagement-focused Mobile HPV Vaccination Program in October 2021.

The program provides HPV vaccinations and other childhood vaccinations in school districts throughout South Carolina, and during Healthy Me/Healthy South Carolina health clinics and other community events, focusing on children aged 9-18 who are eligible for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccines for Children Program.

As of December 31, 2023, the Mobile HPV Vaccination Program staff administered vaccinations to 1,078 participants from 29 counties, including 385 HPV vaccines. Most participants had Medicaid (52.5%) or no insurance coverage (30.6%), whereas 15.8% had private insurance.

The HPV vaccine recipients were predominantly female (54.6%). Additionally, nearly all of the recipients were younger than 18 (98.0%). They primarily self-identified as white (39.8%), Black (32.4%), or Hispanic (19.0%).

The HPV vaccine recipients were predominantly female (54.6%). Additionally, nearly all of the recipients were younger than 18

The program has successfully established partnerships with school districts and other community organizations in South Carolina to deliver vaccines to children ages 9-18. Therefore, the program staff anticipates a growth in the number of HPV vaccines that are delivered over the next few years now that these partnerships have been established.

Through its work to reduce their future cancer risk, the program has become a model for mobile HPV vaccination programs focusing on rural and medically underserved populations. Future directions for this program will include exploring funding to support the cost of HPV vaccinations for adults ages 19-45 while continuing to expand the program’s statewide network of community partners in South Carolina for children ages 9-18.