Hana Tomoi wins EUROGIN 2024 prize for research on HPV vaccine decision-making

We're thrilled to announce that Hana Tomoi, research degree student and member of the LSHTM Vaccine Centre won the Young Scientists Award Winner at EUROGIN 2024.
Hana Tomoi receiving the prize

EUROGIN is the leading International Multidisciplinary Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Congress dedicated to reducing the burden of HPV-related cancers and their mortality rates. Hana’s PhD research focuses on HPV vaccine confidence among adolescent girls, a topic she was first drawn to whilst working for the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan.  In this role she aimed to improve healthcare and vaccination access in low- and middle-income countries. She recognised that improving health care access for those who need it requires understanding not only the supply side but also the demand side including trust issues. 

In Japan, the routine HPV vaccination program for girls began in April 2013, initially achieving vaccination rates exceeding 70%. However, extensive media coverage of adverse events related to the HPV vaccination led to the suspension of proactive recommendations by the Japanese government in June 2013. This caused the vaccination rate to drop below one percent. During this period, many girls and their families remained unaware of the free vaccination opportunity due to the halt in proactive dissemination of information. In April 2022, the government resumed proactive recommendations for the HPV vaccine. Despite this, the prolonged public uncertainty over the nine-year suspension hindered the recovery of vaccination rates. This has significantly impacted Japanese women, who are missing out on the chance to prevent cervical cancer through vaccination.

Hana’s research shows that the low HPV vaccination rates in Japan are more complex than just a lack of knowledge or information. The decision to vaccinate is influenced also by contextual and environmental factors including policies, history, cultural backgrounds, social norms, and communities. Her work focuses on these contextual dimensions inviting anthropological perspectives, in particular in three key areas: HPV vaccination policies, social relationship between girls and those around them, and the unique contexts of adolescence. She aims to understand how these factors shape the decision-making process regarding HPV vaccination among girls. She employs mixed methods, including  focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with girls, and quantitative methods involving the analysis of survey data from parents. Her research emphasises the importance of listening to the girls themselves.

EUROGIN is one of the world’s largest international conferences on HPV, covering a wide range of topics including virology, pathology, clinical research, and epidemiology related to HPV, the vaccines and screenings. While there are sessions focused on communication and advocacy about vaccination, social science research, especially anthropological approaches, are not typically the main focus of the congress. Hana believes that winning the Young Scientist Award for her research signifies a growing recognition of the importance of these methods in HPV vaccine research.

On a personal level, this award is particularly meaningful to Hana.  Her own experience growing up highlighted the need for the health system to consider the perspectives of adolescent girls themselves. The award spurred her to focus on ensuring her research findings and girls’ voices reach decision-makers to inform HPV vaccine policies as her next steps for her work.


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