Recommendations for Structure and Content for a School-Based Adolescent Immunization Curriculum

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Abstract

Despite high utilization of childhood vaccinations, adolescent immunization coverage rates lag behind recommended coverage levels. The four vaccines recommended for adolescents ages 11 to 18 years are tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine; human papillomavirus vaccine; meningococcal conjugate vaccine; and an annual influenza vaccine. The Healthy People 2020 goal is 80% coverage for each recommended immunization, but coverage rates in Georgia among adolescents fall below those goals for all but the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine. We developed a multicomponent intervention that included a school-based, teacher-delivered educational curriculum to increase adolescent vaccination coverage rates in Richmond County, Georgia. We facilitated focus group discussions with middle- and high school science teachers who delivered the immunization curriculum in two consecutive school years. The objective of the focus group was to understand teachers’ perspectives about the curriculum impact and to synthesize recommendations for optimal dissemination of the curriculum content, structure, and packaging. Teachers provided recommendations for curriculum fit within existing classes, timing of delivery, and dosage of delivery and recommended creating a flexible tool kit, such as a downloadable online package. Teachers also recommended increasing emphasis on disease transmission and symptoms to keep students engaged. These findings can be applied to the development of an online, cost-effective tool kit geared toward teaching adolescents about the immune system and adolescent vaccinations.

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