January 25, 2019
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Only 16% of teens complete HPV vaccine series by age 13 years

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Robert A. Bednarczyk

A recent analysis of data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen found that only 16% of U.S. adolescents completed HPV vaccination before the age of 13 years and only 35% before turning 15 years of age. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends vaccination in children aged 11 to 12 years.

“This recommendation — vaccination at 11 to 12 years of age — is built off of a few key reasons. First, the immune response when adolescents are vaccinated at younger ages is stronger compared to adolescents vaccinated at older ages. Second, with two other vaccines recommended at the same ages, vaccinating against HPV at 11 to 12 years will minimize the number of visits adolescents need to complete their adolescent vaccination platform,” study researcher Robert A. Bednarczyk, PhD, of the Hubert Department of Global Health and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, told Infectious Diseases in Children.

The 2016 NIS-Teen survey is a random digital dial telephone survey of parents of adolescents aged 13 to 17 years. In their study, the researchers classified adolescents based on HPV vaccine series initiation and completion before age 13 and 15 years.

The analysis focused on 20,475 parents. Of those, only 15.8% said their children had initiated and completed the HPV vaccine series before the age of 13 years, and only 34.8% said their children were fully up to date by age 15 years. In addition, 23.6% of adolescents initiated HPV vaccination after turning age 13 years, and only 7% initiated after reaching age 15 years.

“This study highlights how much room for improvement there is in HPV vaccination for U.S. adolescents. While vaccination rates have gone up in recent years, we were concerned seeing that only 16% of U.S. adolescents were fully vaccinated against HPV by their 13th birthday,” said Bednarczyk. “It is important for health care providers to strongly recommend HPV vaccination at 11 to 12 years of age as part of the full adolescent vaccine platform.”– by Erin Michael

Disclosure: Bednarczyk reports no relevant financial disclosures.