News release: Park Nicollet pediatrician named state’s 2019 HPV vaccination champion

News Release
November 22, 2019

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Park Nicollet pediatrician named state’s 2019 HPV vaccination champion

Award given by national cancer and public health organizations

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced today that Andrea Singh, MD, department chair of pediatrics and co-lead of the Children’s Health Initiative at HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, has won Minnesota’s 2019 HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention Champion Award for her work to promote human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and its power to prevent cancer.

Led jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of American Cancer Institutes and the American Cancer Society, the HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award program recognizes clinicians, clinics, practices, groups and health systems going above and beyond to foster HPV vaccination in their communities.

Among Dr. Singh’s patients aged 13 to 15 years, 60% have completed the HPV vaccination series. Statewide, only about 42% of Minnesota 13 to 15-year-olds have completed the HPV vaccination series.

“Champions like Dr. Singh are so important in our efforts to increase HPV vaccination rates and protect young people from dangerous cancers later in life,” said MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann. “Her leadership shows that implementing best practices works and is achievable by other providers.”

Dr. Singh has spearheaded a number of initiatives to help make sure adolescents receive the HPV vaccine at the recommended time, including:

  • Improving electronic processes to identify patients who need to start the HPV vaccination series.
  • Partnering with specialty groups, such as urgent care and dental clinics, throughout Park Nicollet and HealthPartners to offer education on HPV vaccination.
  • Advising on the formation of a system to do outreach to children overdue for immunizations, including the HPV vaccine. Since the system launched this summer, they have done outreach to more than 1,200 adolescents overdue for HPV vaccination.

“We’re proud to have Dr. Singh lead this important work for our organization and have seen great improvements in immunization metrics at Park Nicollet and HealthPartners clinics,” said Beth Averbeck, MD, HealthPartners senior medical director of primary care. “She is a mentor to other clinicians in teaching them how to effectively talk about this vaccine, and she is a trusted resource for her patients in educating them on why this vaccine is so important to get on time.” 

The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys at age 11-12 years, but vaccination rates continue to lag behind the other vaccines recommended at that age, which are meningococcal and Tdap vaccines. Low HPV vaccination rates have been attributed to vaccine hesitancy among parents, a lack of understanding about the benefits of the vaccine and not receiving a strong provider recommendation.

According to CDC, nearly 35,000 women and men are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection each year in the United States, but more than 90% of these cancers could be prevented through HPV vaccination.  

“We have a shot to prevent cancer, but more than half of Minnesota teens are not up-to-date,” said Matt Flory, health systems manager at the Minnesota Chapter of the American Cancer Society. “We know that strong provider recommendations will improve state vaccination rates, so leadership from physicians like Dr. Singh could be key in the fight against cancer.”

The HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention Champion Award honors up to one champion from all 50 U.S. states, eight U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States, and the District of Columbia. Immunization programs submit nominations for the champion in their state or territory. Nominees must be a clinician, clinic, practice, group or health system that treats adolescents as part of their overall patient population and must have an HPV vaccine series completion rate at 60% or higher for their adolescent patient population.

To read Dr. Singh’s profile on CDC’s website, and to learn more about the HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award program, please visit HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion.


Media inquiries:

Andrea Ahneman  
MDH Communications

Emma Pederson
HealthPartners Communications