Since 2005, teen immunizations have been recommended at the 11 year-old well child check-up but rates of teens who keep up to date on their shots lag. In an ideal community, 90% of us would be up to date on shots to prevent disease spread most effectively.  Back in 2007, teen recommendations were expanded to include HPV vaccine for girls. In 2011, both boys and girls were recommended to get HPV shots. Although the majority of teens get the Tdap shot (tetanus and whooping cough booster) only around 1/3 of teen girls are up-to-date on their HPV shot when most recently surveyed.

Teen Shots Recommend at age 11:

  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis shot)
  • MCV4 (meningitis shot)
  • HPV (human papillomavirus shot, requires 3 doses over 6 months)

A Pediatrics Study on teen shots revealed that parents may not get their teen shots due to concerns about safety or not understanding the shot was recommended. Not all shots are required by schools; I think some families tend to experience that as an endorsement for the shot being less important. In the survey conducted between 2008-2010, researchers sought to understand trends and rationale for lagging shots:

  • From 2008-’10, parents declined HPV shots more than others.  In 2008, 4.5% of parents reported safety concerns, but by 2010 16.5% of parents reported safety concerns. During that time there were no significant warnings or increased knowledge of severe side effects. Yet, parents concerns about side effects tripled between 2008 and 2010.
  • Intention to get HPV shot decreased over the years. In 2008, 39% parents, heading off to the check up with their teen, stated they didn’t intend to get the HPV shot. By 2010, 44% of parents said they didn’t plan on getting it. This was despite reports of increasing number of pediatricians recommended the vaccine at the visit.
  • Overall, teen vaccine rates are increasing in the US. The CDC reports that most recently ongoing increases continue for Tdap, MCV4 and HPV yet the HPV increases are occurring at half the rate. The Pediatrics survey reported 2010 data that found 80% of 13-17 year-old teens had their Tdap, 63% had MCV4, and 32% of girls had completed their 3 series of HPV vaccines.
  • Many parents reported that their teen didn’t get Tdap and/or MCV4 mainly because parents reported feeling the shots “weren’t recommended” or were “not necessary.”

My question is this, if you’ve hesitated more on teen shots that you did with your infant or toddler or school-age shots, why have you? What concerns do you have about HPV vaccine? Let’s hash this out.