The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, while certain throat cancer diagnoses1 are rising at unprecedented rates among men and women. HPV is responsible for 70 to 90 percent of these cancers in the U.S.2 Yet HPV vaccination rates remain distressingly low, with less than 30% completion among children ages 10-13.
Two doses of the HPV vaccine are required for full immunity among this age group.3 While it is not required for school admission across the U.S. like many other vaccines, the HPV vaccine is easily accessible at annual wellness visits and is a critical step in fighting these preventable diseases. Our analysis looked at HPV vaccination rates over a three-year period for the commercially insured population ages 10-13.
Among children ages 10-13: more than 50 percent get a first dose of HPV vaccine, less than 30 percent get a 2nd dose of HPV vaccine, and HPV vaccine completion rates are 5 times higher for those with more than 2 wellness visits over a three-year period
Low completion rates of HPV vaccine
COMPLETION RATES OF THE HPV VACCINE ARE GROWING MUCH SLOWER THAN INITIATION OF THE FIRST DOSE
In 2013 through 2016, 37 percent received the first dose of the vaccine and 25 percent received the second dose.
In 2014 through 2017, 45 percent received the first dose of the vaccine and 27 percent received the second dose.
In 2015 through 2018, 50 percent received the first dose of the vaccine and 28 percent received the second dose.
In 2016 through 2019, 54 percent received the first dose of the vaccine and 29 percent received the second dose.
INITIATION RATES ARE GROWING MOST RAPIDLY AMONG MALES, WHILE GROWTH OF COMPLETION RATES IS HIGHER AMONG FEMALES
In 2013 through 2016, 34 percent of males received the first dose of the vaccine and 28 percent received the second dose, while 40 percent of females received the first dose of the vaccine and 22 percent received the second dose.
In 2016 through 2019, 53 percent of males received the first dose of the vaccine and 30 percent received the second dose, while 55 percent of females received the first dose of the vaccine and 28 percent received the second dose.
The impact of COVID-19 on HPV vaccination rates was significant. Between January and October, 2020, there was a 13.5% drop from 2019 rates.
How Can We Improve HPV Vaccination Rates?
Looking at HPV vaccination rates over a three-year period for ages 10-13 shows 5 times higher completion rates, underscoring the importance of adhering to prescribed well child visits. Parents may need further education on the benefits and safety of the HPV vaccine. Among parents whose children did not receive the vaccine4: 29 percent were unsure about the HPV vaccine’s effectiveness, 25 percent did not vaccinate their child because it was not required, and 22 percent had concerns about side effects.
Why it matters
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection2. However, HPV vaccination rates remain much lower than other recommended vaccines for the 10-13 age group5. By vaccinating our children against HPV, we are not only preventing viral infections, but also reducing the risk of cancers later in life—many of which are or are becoming increasingly common. Both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vitally important to continue routine vaccinations for children and adults of all ages. As with the COVID-19 vaccine, getting both doses of the HPV vaccine is critical for effective vaccination. These preventive measures help ensure the health and safety of our families and communities. In local communities across the U.S., Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are working to improve vaccination rates by expanding access to remote regions, launching educational campaigns, targeting vulnerable communities and driving completion rate growth.
Learn more at www.bcbs.com/the-health-of-america/topics/vaccinations
Source: BCBS Axis Data
Vaccination rates were aggregated by ZIP code for regional and race/ethnicity comparisons. Race/ethnicity is determined by ZIP code when more than 50% of the households identify as either Black, Hispanic or white.
- HPV can infect the mouth and throat and cause cancers of the oropharynx.
- CDC: HPV and cancer
- The second dose of the HPV vaccine is recommended 6-12 months after the first.
- 2020 Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vaccination Consumer Survey.
- BCBS Axis Data found rates for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) and meningococcal vaccines at 94% and 90%, respectively, among the 2016-2019 cohort.
©2021 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. All rights reserved. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.