HPV Vaccination Still Low Among Adolescents

Rachel Lutz
Published Online: Sunday, August 17, 2014
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Roughly one-third of teen girls’ clinicians and almost half of teen boys’ clinicians did not recommend HPV vaccination in 2013.

The adverse effects of commonly prescribed medications may threaten the wellbeing of elderly patients, according to research published in the European Journal of Public Health.

Although there was a slight increase from 2012 to 2013 in the amount of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations administered, the numbers are still low, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“Progress in increasing HPV vaccination coverage has been unacceptably slow compared to vaccination coverage for other adolescent vaccines,” Jill Roark, MPH, a contributor to the report, told Pharmacy Times in an exclusive interview.

Using 2013 data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen) on adolescents aged 13 to 17 years, the CDC research “assessed HPV vaccination coverage among adolescents to see if there was any change compared to 2012, characterize(d) adherence with recommendations for HPV vaccination by the 13th birthday, and describe(d) HPV vaccine adverse reports received post-licensure,” Roark explained.

In doing so, the investigators found at least 1 dose of any HPV vaccine increased from 53.8% in 2012 to 57.3% in 2013 among adolescent girls. For boys, the number of HPV vaccinations rose from 20.8% to 34.6%.

The researchers speculated that the girls’ vaccination numbers could have reached 91.3% if at least 1 dose of HPV vaccines were administered alongside other vaccines during adolescence.

“These are missed opportunities to protect adolescents from HPV infections that can lead to cancer,” Roark noted.

The percentage of parents reporting a clinician’s recommendation for an HPV vaccination also increased between 2012 and 2013. For parents of girls, the number rose from 61% in 2012 to 64.4% in 2013, and for parents of boys, it rose from 28% to 41.6%. Parents of vaccinated teens were more likely to have received a clinician recommendation for HPV vaccination than parents of unvaccinated teens, the study authors noted.

“After 2 years of low, stable coverage, this news was a small step in the right direction,” Roark said, explaining the trend. “Even though this news was welcome, we saw the expected gap between HPV vaccine and other routinely recommended adolescent vaccines.”

The CDC researchers were most concerned that roughly one-third of teen girls’ clinicians and almost half of teen boys’ clinicians did not recommend HPV vaccination. They attributed the low percentages among boys’ doctors as lack of insight into the vaccines, as the recommendation for boys to be vaccinated for HPV was only implemented in December 2011.

“What pediatric clinicians say and how they say it matters,” Roark advised. “Not only is a strong HPV vaccination recommendation from a health care professional critical, but we also found that it is important for HPV vaccine to be recommended and given along with other adolescent vaccines—not singled out or treated differently.”

The CDC has compiled HPV Vaccine Resources for Healthcare Professionals, which can be found online at www.cdc.gov/YouAreTheKey.

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