Offering HPV Vaccinations in Pharmacies Improves the Numbers, Reduces Future Cancers

Pharmacists’ accessibility and interactions with the public may help increase HPV vaccine coverage.

The CDC has recommended routine vaccination of human papillomavirus (HPV) in all children ages 11 or 12 since 2011 with a goal of 80% coverage by 2020. However, uptake has been slow due to stigma associated with the sexual means of HPV transmission. Only 42% of girls and 28% of boys 13 to 17 years old received the three-dose series by the end of 2015.

Pharmacists’ accessibility and interactions with the public may help increase HPV vaccine coverage. Pharmacies are open longer hours than most primary care provider offices and patients may receive a vaccination without an appointment. The journal Preventive Medicine features data in its February 2017 issue that suggest that a pharmacist-led HPV vaccine provision could increase vaccine coverage.

The study authors surveyed 1255 parents of American adolescents on their willingness to have a pharmacist vaccinate their children for HPV. Surveying personnel selected respondents through random-digit dialing of landlines and cell phones, and addressed sampling to capture homes without phones. The authors then assessed the results with a multivariable logistic regression.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents reported interest in vaccinating their children at a pharmacy. Parents who were willing to have their children vaccinated at pharmacies were more likely to believe that (1) pharmacists are skilled at vaccine administration, (2) the HPV vaccine is as important as other adolescent vaccinations, and (3) pharmacies can improve vaccine access.

Socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and child’s sex had no effect on a respondents’ willingness to have their child vaccinated at a pharmacy. Parents of adolescents with incomplete series were more often willing to seek out a pharmacist.

Participants preferred to be informed about the role of pharmacists in vaccinations through their child’s physician. A primary concern for parents was the possibility that if they obtained the vaccination at a pharmacy, the primary care provider would be unaware of it and it would not be recorded.

The study shows parents are open to using pharmacists for HPV vaccination in their adolescent children. Barriers to increased pharmacist HPV vaccination are restrictive state laws, inconsistent reimbursement, and lack of access to state vaccination registries.The researchers concluded that the results emphasize the role of primary care provider in vaccine education and referral to pharmacies.


Calo WA, Gilkey MB, Shah P, Marciniak MW, Brewer NT. Parents' willingness to get human papillomavirus vaccination for their adolescent children at a pharmacy. Prev Med. 2017 Feb 7. pii: S0091-7435(17)30051-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.02.003. [Epub ahead of print]