I don’t think that it will come as a surprise if I tell you that HPV vaccination rates in the U.S. are low, with only 60% of girls and 42% of boys getting the first dose. Of course completion of the 3-dose series is even lower, much lower than rates of vaccination against other diseases. We need to do much better.
HPV has been the victim of poor public relations, despite the fact that it has been available for 10 years, and is an extremely safe and effective vaccine. So what to do? This month, Emily Walling and colleagues from Washington University present a systematic review of interventions to improve HPV vaccination rates. (10.1542/peds.2015-3863) One of their findings is that the provider herself or himself can be an important barrier to initiation of the HPV series.
We are all busy or may forget about recommending the vaccine, or it’s not in our regular workflow yet it takes approximately 17 years for any medical practice to become “common practice”1 – but, for whatever reason, WE can be a barrier. I would encourage all of you to take on HPV vaccination rates as one of your QI projects this year (MOC, anyone?). Walling’s paper will give you some ideas on evidence-based strategies to improve your vaccination rates.
1.Green L, Ottoson J, García C, Hiatt R. Diffusion theory and knowledge dissemination, utilization, and integration in public health. Annu Rev Public Health2009;30:151-74?