Only two states require HPV vaccination
Researchers from Princeton University reported that only two states and Washington, D.C., require adolescents to receive the HPV vaccine, and each offers patients ample room for exemption.
“Eight years after [HPV vaccines] were first recommended in the United States, vaccination coverage is substantially below the Healthy People 2020 target of 80%,” Jason L. Schwartz, PhD, MBE, Harold T. Shapiro Fellow in Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University, and Laurel A. Easterling, an undergraduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton, wrote in JAMA. “Recent efforts to address these deficits emphasize that HPV vaccines should not be viewed or treated differently than other routinely recommended vaccines.”
The researchers analyzed data from the CDC and state health departments to determine the presence and timing of state vaccination requirements for adolescents. Through March, only Virginia and Washington, D.C., had requirements for HPV vaccination, and each included “broad, vaccine-specific exemption procedures,” they wrote. Rhode Island is set to require vaccination in August. Schwartz and Easterling wrote that other common adolescent vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices since 1990 are required by states much more frequently, including those for hepatitis B (47 states, plus Washington, D.C.), varicella (50 states, plus Washington, D.C.) and meningococcal disease (29 states, plus Washington, D.C.). In the first 8 years after their recommendation, hepatitis B vaccination was required in 36 states, varicella in 38 states, and meningococcal conjugate in 21 states, along with Washington, D.C., for each vaccine.
“Why HPV vaccine requirements have not been more widely implemented is unclear, but may reflect reluctance among some states to revisit the contentious political climate surrounding requirement proposals in 2006-2007,” the researchers wrote. “The recent approval and recommendation of a 9-valent HPV vaccine offers a new opportunity to consider all strategies shown to promote high vaccination rates, including school requirements.” – by David Jwanier
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.