Report finds low but growing uptake of HPV vaccine

Halen Doughty
HPV vaccine

A seven-year study of medical claims by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana finds that about 28 percent of Louisiana adolescents receive a first dose of the HPV vaccine by their 13th birthday, but that rate is still low compared to other adolescent immunizations.

Human papillomavirus vaccination rates have risen substantially as BCBS reports 29 percent of their commercially insured adolescent members received an initial dose of the CDC-recommended vaccine from 2013 to 2016.

Dr. Vindell Washington, chief medical officer for BCBS LA said vaccination remains a key tool for improving the health of Louisiana citizens. “It is not often that we have the opportunity to address the scourge of cancer with a vaccine,” he said. “We need to partner with parents and others in the community to do better by our kids.”

Louisiana’s first-dose HPV-vaccination rates increased from 16 percent for adolescents born in 2013 to 32 percent for adolescents born in 2016. The increase brought Louisiana’s HPV-vaccination rate closer to the national average. Nationwide, 22 percent of adolescents in 2013 received an initial dose of HPV vaccination compared to 34 percent in 2016.

Despite this growth, HPV vaccination still lags behind other adolescent vaccines in Louisiana. In the state, 76 percent of adolescents in 2016 received the meningococcal vaccine and more than 77 percent received the Tdap vaccine. Only 11 percent of Louisiana adolescents completed the full three-dose HPV regimen by age 13 in 2016, which is slightly higher than the national rate of 7 percent.

The study also found that in 2016, nearly 36 percent of girls received a dose of the HPV vaccine compared to almost 30 percent of boys. The rates were significantly higher than in 2013, and Louisiana is now closing in on the 2016 national rates of 37 percent of girls and 32 percent of boys. Nationally, meningococcal and Tdap vaccination rates in 2016 were 78 percent and 84 percent, respectively.

The report “Adolescent Vaccination Rates in America” represents a comprehensive study of outpatient medical claims for commercially insured BCBS members born from 2000 through 2003 and who were vaccinated by their 13th birthday between 2010 and 2016.

This is the eighteenth study of the Blue Cross Blue Shield: The Health of America Report series, a collaboration between BCBSA and Blue Health Intelligence, which uses a market-leading claims database to uncover key trends and insights into health care affordability and access to care.

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