23 Apr 2009

Vanuatu programme trials wristbands to boost vaccination

6:50 pm on 23 April 2009

An Australian-run programme to help vaccinate Vanuatu women for cervical cancer is trialling the use of coloured wristbands as a reminder for those being vaccinated to come back for follow-up shots.

The Vanuatu Vaccine Program is being driven by the University of Queensland's Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Immunology and Metabolic Medicine.

Headed by 2006 Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer, the programme is trialling in Vanuatu after learning that young women often don't return to get second and third cervical cancer vaccine shots.

Professor Frazer says the programme could be extended to other developing countries which lack cervical cancer screening services, if the trial of three incentives proves successful.

"One is just to just give them a coloured silicone wristband which is just sort of a reward for coming for the vaccine and they get a different one each time they come for a vaccine shot; the alternative is to give them the same wristband but with some wording on it which says remember to get your next vaccine shot; so at the end of the trial we'll have basically three different groups of girls, one of which just has the card, and we'll see if that makes any difference to the number of girls that come back to get their second and third shots."

Professor Ian Frazer