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AIM Adolescent Resource Guide
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Overview of activity

The Massachusetts Immunization Program implemented a targeted advertising and Twitter campaign to raise HPV awareness among parents of adolescents.

Ages targeted

All adolescents (no specific ages)

Background/impetus for the activity

The Massachusetts Immunization Program implemented a communications campaign targeted toward the public as one component of its PPHF HPV funding award. Given disparities in HPV-related cancers among minority populations, the program was particularly interested in reaching African American and Spanish-speaking populations.

Description of activity

The Program hired an advertising company to use CDC-developed public service announcements and other materials for placement on television, radio, and social media to educate parents about the benefits of HPV vaccination. The primary target for the campaign was parents of African American and Latino adolescents, with the general public as the secondary target. The Program and the company worked together to identify the target audience, campaign timeframe and overall media strategy, and decided which CDC materials were most appropriate for the target populations. These decisions were discussed with the HPV stakeholder group formed under the PPHF HPV grant, and were outlined in a media plan for the campaign. The campaign used a 30-second television ad, two 30-second radio ads and online banner/panel ads, all available in both English and Spanish; the ads were placed in a wide range of both English and Spanish-language media. For example, television program placement included Ellen, Good Morning America, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the Real Housewives franchise, and men’s World Cup soccer matches.

The program supplemented the paid media portion of the campaign with a Twitter campaign. The program developed 20 tweets, one of which was posted daily on the Twitter account for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), managed by the DPH Communications Office. At the time, the DPH Twitter account had approximately 16,000 followers (now more than 25,000).

Role of Immunization Program and other agencies/groups involved

The Immunization Program developed the campaign with input from the HPV stakeholder group and was responsible for the Twitter portion of the campaign. An advertising agency was hired in April 2014 through a request for quotation (RFQ) process. The agency had experience placing ads to reach minority populations and was therefore responsible for identifying and purchasing specific television, radio and digital ad spots, and provided metrics to the program on the campaign’s reach. A contractor that provided overall project coordination for the HPV grant worked closely with the Program, the DPH Communications Office, and the advertising agency on the planning and launch of the campaign. The communications office approved all of the materials used in the campaign and hosts the DPH Twitter account.


HPV-focused ads were placed on television, radio, and websites, and tweets were posted daily during the campaign.

Intersection with other program activities

The HPV stakeholder group was involved with the media campaign. The Twitter portion of the campaign provided a base for future Twitter campaigns. For example, the program’s outreach coordinator plans to write a blog (or series of blogs) on a certain immunization issue, which will post on a DPH website, and will then develop a supporting Twitter campaign that links to the blog.


The 2014 HPV campaign was funded through an HPV-specific PPHF cooperative agreement.


The Immunization Program contracted with Jon Snow Inc. to provide project management support for the larger HPV-specific PPHF grant funding, including this HPV public awareness campaign. The Medical Director of the Immunization Program provided both clinical and educational guidance for the HPV public awareness campaign throughout the grant cycle.  The Immunization Outreach Coordinator, who plans all the strategic outreach to the public and to providers regarding vaccines across the lifespan, began working at the Immunization Program at the conclusion of the PPHF grant and wrote the final report for CDC.

Implementation status

The HPV awareness campaign took place June through July 2014.


  • The reach of the 2014 campaign was even greater than anticipated. For example, the net audience for the television and radios ads was more than 2.4 million people, and the number of impressions for the month of tweets was more than 28,000.
  • Connections established via the HPV stakeholder group and its involvement in the media campaign have helped to identify materials used in more recent campaigns. For example, through one partner (the Boston Area Health Education Center), teens created videos in both English and Spanish promoting HPV vaccination. The Immunization Program links to this video on its website and incorporated it in its January 2017 Cervical Cancer Awareness Month social media campaign.


At the time of this campaign, Twitter limited tweets to 140 characters, and DPH imposes additional limits (eg, need to include a link), which left 117 characters available for messages. Developing a clear message that adhered to this limit could be challenging.

Other lessons learned/Advice to other programs

  • The timeframe of the campaign (June-July) was chosen to reach parents when they would be most likely to bring their children to a health care provider (eg, to get summer camp or sports physicals).
  • The Program made a conscious decision to use the portion of PPHF HPV funding budgeted for a communications campaign on better placement of advertisements across various media rather than for customizing CDC materials.
  • Hashtags used in tweets need to be monitored. Last year, the Program used a hashtag (#VaxWithMe) in a tweet related to National Infant Immunization Week, and that particular hashtag evolved to be mostly against vaccination.
  • Publicly available social media toolkits can provide ideas for wording of tweets and other social media posts.
  • Establishing a good relationship with a health department’s communications office can help make the approval process run more smoothly.

For more information

Contact Pejman Talebian, Director, Immunization Program at (617) 983-6880 or

MA Resources: HPV Public Awareness Campaign

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Massachusetts DPH blog related to immunizations Link Administration 11/22/2018
Massachusetts DPH tweets related to HPV Link Administration 11/22/2018
Cervical Cancer Awareness Social Media Kit 2017 Link Administration 11/22/2018
MA Immunization Plan - 2014 HPV Vacc Awareness Link Administration 11/22/2018
Media Plan, George Washington Cancer Center Link Administration 11/22/2018
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