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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Many Adolescents Still Not Receiving HPV Vaccine

Recommendations by medical providers are the most consistent factor influencing teenagers to get the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine—but even then, many adolescents do not start or complete the vaccine series, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

In the study  in the Journal of Community Health, a research team used national immunization data for youths 13 to 17 years old to explore vaccination coverage for both girls and boys. The study found that in 2013, the vaccination completion rate for 13- to 17-year-olds was just 26 percent. Another 19 percent of teens initiated the sequence, but did not complete it. Completion rates were higher for girls than boys—38 percent, versus 14 percent.

Vaccination rates were measurably higher among teenagers who received a recommendation by a medical provider, as well as among girls living in the Midwest and boys from low-income families eligible for the “Vaccines for Children” program. But while provider recommendation was “the strongest predictor” of vaccine completion, the research team found it was “insufficient to achieve high coverage rates, especially among boys.

“Highly educated mothers were immune to provider recommendations, suggesting that they may arrive at clinic visits with preconceived notions of what is appropriate for their child,” the study says. “This paradox suggests some caregivers may perceive messages conveyed by clinicians as an option, rather than a direct recommendation.”

To read more about the study, go to: