According to recently released data on vaccination rates from CDC’s 2013 National Immunization Survey on Teens (NIS-Teen), human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations and other adolescent vaccinations have increased only slightly since 2012. The data also illustrated the role pharmacists and other clinicians can play in whether or not parents choose to vaccinate their children.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and the virus has been linked to several cancers. HPV vaccination is recommended for preteen girls and boys aged 11 years or 12 years so they have time to develop an immune response before being sexually active with another person. HPV vaccines offer the best protection to girls and boys who receive all three vaccine doses.
Administration of the HPV vaccine in teenage girls and boys remains “unacceptably low,” noted Anne Schuchat, MD, Assistant Surgeon General in the U.S. Public Health Service and the Director of CDC’s National Center of Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, during a telebriefing.
The NIS-Teen data showed a gap between the number of adolescents receiving tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine and the number receiving HPV vaccine. The investigators reported that in 2013, 57% of girls and 35% of boys had received one of three doses of the HPV vaccine. Nearly 86% of adolescents had received one dose of Tdap vaccine.
Coverage for meningococcal conjugate vaccine increased from 74% in 2012 to 77.8% in 2013. Tdap coverage increased from 84.6% in 2012 to 86% in 2013. HPV coverage for girls increased 3.5%, from 53.8% in 2012 to 57.3% in 2013. “It is a relief that we did not continue to have flatlining HPV coverage in 2013,” said Schuchat. “You may recall there was absolutely no improvement from 2011 to 2012.”
The data also showed that for parents who had their daughters vaccinated against HPV, 74% received a recommendation from a health professional, compared with 52% of parents who did not have their daughters vaccinated. For boys, 72% of parents who chose to vaccinate their sons received a recommendation, compared with 26% of parents who did not have their sons vaccinated. “HPV vaccination of boys is still being seen as fairly new and it appears from the 2013 survey data that fewer clinicians were recommending it routinely,” Schuchat said.
Schuchat pointed out that pharmacists and other health care workers could play an influential role in educating parents about the importance of teen vaccinations. During the telebriefing, she mentioned pharmacists as a means to increase HPV vaccination completion rates.
“Pharmacies can often offer a vaccine, and some states or some partnerships are beginning the series in the doctor’s office and encouraging the follow-up doses to be given at a more convenient location in terms of day/night availability like a pharmacy,” Schuchat said.