Study Measures Adolescent Vaccination Completion in US

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News Release issued 10/22/2020 by IDWeek 2020

Researchers: Only 30% Of U.S. 17-Year-Olds Have Received All Recommended Vaccines

Arlington, Va.—A first-time study to measure whether adolescents are completing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended vaccination schedule, excluding influenza vaccine, determined that just 30.6% of the nation’s 17-year-olds had received all vaccines, according to data being presented at IDWeek 2020.

The study revealed model-adjusted, state-level variations that ranged from a low of 11.3% in Idaho to a high of 56.4% in Rhode Island.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased barriers to health care and led to a decrease in wellness visits,” says Sara Poston, PharmD, presenting author of the study and senior director of health outcomes research at GSK. “Although COVID-19 has our attention, it’s more important than ever that providers are diligent about making sure teens receive vaccines.”

The findings provide a solid foundation to begin addressing geographic disparities and improving overall completion, she adds, and indicate that states can play a significant role in ensuring vaccine goals are met.

Researchers identified four actionable factors that could affect adolescent completion of recommended vaccines: insurance coverage; provider visits at age 16 or 17 years; provider human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recommendations; and state-mandated meningococcal (MenACWY) vaccination. During a recent press conference, Elizabeth La, PhD, of RTI Health Solutions, suggested, "It's important to treat every clinical encounter as an opportunity to vaccinate." 

Residing in a state with a MenACWY vaccination requirement for elementary or secondary schools was the only state-level variable assessed that significantly increased the likelihood of completion.

The analysis also finds females, Black or Latino teens and individuals with Medicaid coverage were among those more likely to receive recommended vaccines. Researchers say further study is needed to determine whether some of these results are attributed to the Vaccines for Children Program, a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay.

The researchers also note their study could not explain the variability in completion rates between states, meaning more research is needed to pinpoint additional factors that could help states protect more adolescents against vaccine-preventable diseases.  

Researchers analyzed National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen) data from 2015 to 2018 to estimate national and state-level completion rates among 17-year-old teens. Vaccination completion is based on completion of the HPV series, completion of the MenACWY series, and receipt of a Tdap vaccine.

In addition to Dr. Poston, co-authors of the study are: Elizabeth La, Ph.D., MSE, Diana Garbinsky, M.S. and Shannon Hunter, M.S. – researchers at RTI Health Solutions – along with Patricia Novy, Ph.D. and Parinaz Ghaswalla, Ph.D. with GSK.

This study and publication were funded by GSK.

See study abstract here: 
Individual and state-level factors associated with receipt of multiple recommended adolescent vaccines in the United States

See additional coverage of this study on MedPage Today: 
Teen Vaccinations: We Could Be Doing a Lot Better
— Only one-third received all three immunizations recommended for adolescents, and that was before pandemic

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