Healthy People 2020 is a compendium of the national goals for health promotion for all Americans. One of the goals of Healthy People 2020 is to achieve a human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination rate of 80% this year for both adolescent males and females by age 15. So how are we doing? Chen et al (10.1542/peds.2019-3557) evaluated progress towards this goal by using a large national health care database for commercially insured families. The authors reviewed healthcare data for over 7.8 million children between 2003 and 2017. Although they found that by 2017 only 57% of girls and 51% of boys had one dose, the authors also noted variability by state. For example, there appeared to be more administration of HPV in states with legislation for HPV education in schools or in states where there was improved access to pediatric care particularly in rural settings. With the results not approaching the targeted 80%, does this mean we are failing in our attempt to improve vaccination of adolescents with the HPV vaccine?
Not necessarily, at least according to a commentary by Dr. Amanda Dempsey (10.1542/peds.2020-005454), a vaccination expert and advocate at Colorado Children’s Hospital. Dr. Dempsey notes the limitations of the Chen et al study (e.g. only children with private insurance were included) but also identifies several positive findings from this study and concludes that the trends suggest that we are well on our way to reaching that 80% . Give this article and commentary your best shot and then look at your own HPV rates and consider some of the ideas suggested in both the study and commentary that might increase your HPV vaccination rates as well.