More teens are getting the recommended HPV vaccine, and boys are catching up to girls, researchers have found.
However, HPV vaccination still lags far behind other recommended vaccines for adolescents, according to a new study published Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“I'm pleased with the progress, but too many teens are still not receiving the HPV vaccine – which leaves them vulnerable to cancers caused by HPV infection,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., said in a news release. “We need to do more to increase the vaccination rate and protect American youth today from future cancers tomorrow.”
Roughly 31,500 people each year are diagnosed with cancer related to HPV, and vaccination could prevent about 90% of those, according to the report.
The Academy and CDC recommend HPV vaccine as part of routine immunization for males and females at age 11 or 12 years, although it can be started as early as 9 years. Late last year, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved a two-dose schedule for adolescents under age 15 instead of the traditional three-dose schedule. Teens starting at age 15 or later still need three doses.
To monitor vaccination rates, the CDC analyzed new data from the 2016 National Immunization Survey — Teen representing 20,475 adolescents ages 13-17.
The survey found 60.4% of teens had received at least one dose of HPV vaccine, up from 56.1% in 2015. Using the new two-dose benchmark, 43.4% of teens were up to date with HPV vaccination — 49.5% of females and 37.5% of males.
Roughly 30.8% of females in South Carolina were up to date compared with a high of 73% in Rhode Island. For males, the lowest rate was 19.9% in Wyoming and the highest was 68.7% in Rhode Island.
Researchers found coverage rates were higher in areas that were more urban and among teens living below the federal poverty level. From 2013-’16, the greatest increase in HPV vaccination occurred in New York City, Nevada, Maryland, Guam, New York and Alaska.
Cities and states that have been successful in increasing rates have enhanced provider education, given practices feedback on coverage levels, launched media campaigns, formed community partnerships and benefitted from school requirements for other vaccines.
Still, far fewer teens are receiving HPV vaccine compared with other vaccines recommended for their age group. Teens also should receive tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) and meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) at age 11 or 12 years.
The new study found 88% of teens received at least one dose of Tdap and 82.2% had received at least one dose of MenACWY, up slightly from 86.4% and 81.3% respectively the year before.
The CDC recommends administering HPV vaccine at the same time as Tdap and MenACWY.
“Providers should use every visit to review vaccination histories, provide strong clinical recommendations for HPV and other recommended vaccines, and implement systems to eliminate or minimize missed opportunities,” authors wrote.