HPV Vaccination – Health Care Provider FAQs

Health Care Providers, Boost Your HPV Vaccination Rates with the Help of School Based Health Centers!

Adolescents and their parents/guardians live jam-packed lives. Finding time to get to your clinic for preventative care, like immunizations, can fall low on the priority list. That’s where School-based health centers (SBHCs) come in. SBHCs deliver care to your adolescent patients where they spend the bulk of their time: at school. Parents don’t have to miss work, students don’t have to miss class, and services are all free! Read on to learn more.

teens0227Frequently Asked Questions for Health Care Providers

1. What is a School Based Health Center (SBHC) and what health services do they provide?

2. How do families benefit by having the option of getting vaccinated at SBHCs?

3. How does my practice benefit from referring patients to SBHCs for HPV vaccination?

4. Will sending my patient to an SBHC for HPV vaccine disrupt the medical home model?

5. How does vaccination at SBHCs affect patient ownership in the Washington State Immunization Information System (WA IIS)?

6. How will I/my practice be informed when my patients get vaccinated at SBHCs?

7. Do adolescents have the right to self-consent for HPV vaccine?

8. What costs do families incur when a patients gets the HPV vaccine at a SBHC?

9. Who manages and sponsors SBHCs?

10. How are SBHCs staffed?

11. What’s the difference between a SBHC and a school nurse?

12. How do families register for SBHCs?

13. How do we know that SBHCs are effective?

14. How can I find out what SBHCs are near my practice?


1. What is a School Based Health Center (SBHC) and what health services do they provide?

Just like a typical primary care clinic, school-based health centers (SBHCs) provide a range of services including immunizations, well child exams, chronic disease management (e.g. asthma), sports physicals, reproductive health services, and mental health counseling. SBHC staff collaborate with schools to address the broad range of concerns and adverse experiences that affect students’ healthy development.

SBHCs place critically needed services like medical, behavioral, dental, and vision care directly in schools so that all young people have equal opportunity to learn and grow. All services are free to students.

Community health agencies operate SBHCs at over 30 elementary, middle, and high schools in King County, serving over 8,000 students and providing over 40,000 health care visits each year.

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2. How do families benefit by having the option of getting vaccinated at SBHCs?

For students that have a hard time getting to your clinic for immunizations or returning for follow-up doses, school-based health centers (SBHCs) are the perfect way to close the treatment loop. SBHCs remove several common barriers to health care, making it easy for students to access care efficiently, effectively, and seamlessly. Parents don’t have to take time off from work and potentially lose wages, and students don’t have to miss class to travel to off-site appointments. Instead, students can quickly get back to class and focus on learning.

In addition to offering immunizations and addressing other physical and mental health concerns, SBHCs also promote good health across the lifespan through nutrition education, promoting supportive relationships, and reinforcing positive self-images.

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3. How does my practice benefit from referring patients to SBHCs for HPV vaccination?

By eliminating travel time for both students and their parents, school-based health centers (SBHCs) increase the likelihood that your patients will be vaccinated on time and completely. A better vaccinated patient population brings financial benefits for your practice, like improved HEDIS scores, triggering higher reimbursement rates. More importantly, a well vaccinated population means fewer disease outbreaks and a more resilient community.

In addition, referring students to SBHCs frees up space in your clinic’s schedule for patients with more urgent or complicated concerns, allowing you to focus your expertise where it’s most needed.

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4. Will sending my patient to an SBHC for HPV vaccine disrupt the medical home model?

When your patients get care at school-based health centers (SBHCs), your practice remains their medical home. SBHCs are not intended to replace the role of primary care clinics for students who already have access to a provider.

SBHCs can, however, serve as a safety net for students who have limited or no insurance, need linguistically or culturally competent care they can’t find elsewhere, or who face other barriers to care.

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5. How does vaccination at SBHCs affect patient ownership in the Washington State Immunization Information System (WA IIS)?

Ownership in WA IIS is based on the location where an individual received their most recent dose of any vaccine, whether that’s your office, a pharmacy, or a school-based health center (SBHC). When a patient gets a shot outside of your clinic, WA IIS temporarily reflects a shift in ownership. However, if that patient is vaccinated at your facility at a later date, you will regain ownership in WA IIS. You will still be able to view a patient’s immunization records in IIS regardless of where they received their most recent shot.

Public Health strongly encourages all clinics to compare patients’ immunization records in WA IIS with your Electronic Medical Records (EMR). As long as you update your EMR with vaccinations administered elsewhere, you can assess individual patient vaccination needs and generate the most accurate estimates of vaccination coverage in your practice.

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6. How will I/my practice be informed when my patients get vaccinated at SBHCs?

The best way to stay informed of vaccinations your patients get at school-based health centers (SBHCs), pharmacies, or elsewhere is to check WA IIS before every adolescent visit. This keeps both your EMR and WA IIS systems up-to-date, reduces missed opportunities, and prevents staff from administering unnecessary doses.

Though at first this may seem time consuming, you can streamline your approach by having a Medical Assistant (MA) or other staff member build in a small amount of time at the end of each day to prep for the next day of appointments. They can quickly review WA IIS for each school-aged patient on the schedule. Alternatively, setting up bidirectional reporting between your EMR and WA IIS significantly reduces the need for staff involvement. Contact the WA IIS Help Desk at by calling 800-325-5599 or emailing WAIISHelpDesk@doh.wa.gov to inquire about bidirectional reporting.

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7. Do adolescents have the right to self-consent for HPV vaccine?

In Washington State, minors can legally self-consent for a variety of services. To learn about how your agency interprets minor consent laws, contact your agency’s legal team. For more information on minor consent for health care in Washington State, click here.

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8. What costs do families incur when a patients gets the HPV vaccine at a SBHC?

All services at school-based health centers (SBHCs) are free to students. Some SBHCs bill insurance for reimbursement but the cost is never passed on to clients or family members.

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9. Who manages and sponsors SBHCs?

School-based health centers (SBHCs) are sponsored by FQHCs, HMOs, and non-profit health centers, among others. Sponsoring organizations include: HealthPoint Community Health Centers, International Community Health Services, Kaiser Permanente of Washington (formerly Group Health Cooperative), Neighborcare Health, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic/Seattle Children’s Hospital, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and Swedish Medical Center. Click here to see a complete list of schools each organization sponsors.

Staff at each SBHC are employed by the clinic’s sponsoring organization.

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10. How are SBHCs staffed?

School-based health centers (SBHCs) are typically staffed by medical providers (e.g. ARNPs and PAs), licensed mental health professionals, and clinic coordinators. Supplemental staff may include patient navigators, health educators, oral health professionals, and others.

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11. What’s the difference between a SBHC and a school nurse?

School-based health centers (SBHCs) complement the work of school nurses by providing a readily accessible referral site for students who are without a medical home or in need of more comprehensive services such as primary, mental health, oral, or vision care.

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12. How do families register for SBHCs?

In schools with a school-based health center (SBHC) onsite, registration forms are typically sent to families in the school’s welcome packet at the start of the school year. Some SBHCs also post registration forms on their website. If the registration forms are not received or get misplaced, families can request replacement copies by calling or visiting their child’s SBHC.

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13. How do we know that SBHCs are effective?

A significant body of research demonstrates that school-based health centers (SBHCs) reap a wide variety of benefits, including improved academic outcomes, reduced urgent care visits and hospitalizations, and improved mental health.Visit the SBHC Literature Database to learn more.

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14. How can I find out what SBHCs are near my practice?

Check out this map to see what school-based health centers are in your neighborhood.

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