How is your practice doing with adolescent vaccination coverage?
Chances are your team is dealing with at least one question or policy related to adolescent vaccinations:
- HPV vaccine completion rates?
- Meningococcus B vaccination — to promote universally or just to high-risk patients?
- HPV-9 for those who already had HPV-4 or HPV-2?
- Meningococcus B vaccine — which one to stock?
- Second dose meningococcus ACWY rates?
Indeed, since the inception of an adolescent vaccination platform in 2006, changes to which vaccine products are available and recommendations for their use may make it feel difficult to stay abreast of everything, let alone keep parents in the loop and adolescents up to date. And, complicating this scenario even more are the social factors related to HPV vaccination.
Adolescent vaccinations have been a topic of conversation at the national level as well with many leaders in public health and vaccine advocacy working to determine how best to get adolescents vaccinated. Two recently released action briefs* may provide you with data and ideas for action in your own practices:
Increasing HPV Vaccination Rates Among Adolescents: Challenges and Opportunities
This focused look at HPV vaccination includes a discussion of the roles of parental hesitancy, provider recommendation practices and vaccine accessibility as they relate to HPV vaccine uptake.
After descriptions of studies looking at these barriers, the authors suggest four areas for intervention and provide examples of either successful programs addressing the intervention or specific suggestions for implementing them. The four areas for intervention include:
- Support healthcare providers’ ability to make strong HPV vaccine recommendations.
- Capture commonly missed opportunities for vaccination.
- Implement policies that improve access to HPV vaccines.
- Increase public education and awareness efforts targeting parents and teens.
Read the complete brief or a blog by Dr. Kristen Feemster, senior author of the brief and director of Research for the Vaccine Education Center.
Addressing New and Ongoing Adolescent Vaccination Challenges
In February 2016, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) invited subject matter experts, including representatives from professional medical and nursing associations, patient health organizations and government agencies to discuss the long-term health impacts of under-immunized adolescents and the role of healthcare professionals in increasing these rates. The group discussed outcomes including cancers caused by HPV and meningococcal infections that could be prevented by consistent vaccination of adolescents as well as the potential role of a vaccination platform at 16 years of age.
Areas for ongoing work related to adolescent vaccinations were identified, including:
- Consideration of mandates and school requirements
- Decreasing missed opportunities
- Ongoing communication with parents and caregivers
- Education and support for healthcare providers
- Introduction of systems that make adolescent vaccinations routine
- Involvement of all healthcare providers in vaccine delivery
Read the complete brief.
NFID also previously released (August 2014) a call to action related to HPV, HPV Vaccination as a Public Health Priority.
As your team works through your practice’s questions and policies related to adolescent vaccination, we hope that these briefs will provide information that is helpful to resolving them, but most importantly, that they will remind you of the importance of working through these issues — within your provider group and with parents and their children. Only when adolescents and teens are immunized can we be certain that they are as protected as they can be when we send them into the world.
*Editorial note: Staff of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia participated in the conversations and development of both briefs — co-branding the HPV-specific brief and as one of many stakeholders in the adolescent vaccination brief.