During the summer of 2014, I worked in Perth, Western Australia (WA) at the Department of Health, Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD). The CDCD oversees implementation of the Adolescent School-based Immunization Program (SBIP) in WA - a program through which all students in year 8 are offered an opportunity to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTap) vaccines at no cost. While female students have been eligible for the HPV vaccine in schools since 2007, males were first added to the program in 2013. WA is the only state in Australia that maintains a comprehensive state-wide database of all immunizations provided in schools, both public and private.
For my practicum project, I analyzed current and historical adolescent immunisation program data to help the SBIP team evaluate the success of the HPV program among male students state-wide. In addition, we compared rates of HPV and dTap vaccination coverage to identify characteristics of schools at risk of low vaccination uptake among their students. Working alongside Dr. Paul Effler and the SBIP team, I gained practical real-life experience navigating and analyzing large datasets, and improved my skills and knowledge of STATA software. Our findings were used to inform strategies for improving program delivery for schools and student populations at increased risk for non-vaccination.