DOH: More Work Needed to Increase Teen Immunization Rates

Immunization rates of teenagers aged 13-17 years in Washington have plateaued recently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Survey. While we’re meeting the national target for Tdap coverage, many teens remain insufficiently protected against other diseases.

This year’s survey shows that only 88% of teens have a complete MMR series, which is below the community immunity level needed to prevent the spread of measles. Like the rest of the country, we are also struggling to increase HPV vaccination rates for both boys and girls. Theshutterstock_58771618 rate of completing the 3-dose series by age 17 among females (45%) and males (28%) is too low for optimal health, and far below the Healthy People target of 80%. We expect the new 2-dose series recommendation for ages 9-14 to have a positive effect on series completion rates for both boys and girls.

Every year, the CDC conducts the National Immunization Survey. The results discussed here cover adolescents aged 13 to 17 years in 2015. Full results and the accompanying MMWR article can be found here.

Providers like you are working hard to keep Washington teens healthy. Keep it up by checking the Washington Immunization Information System (IIS) at every adolescent appointment. Look for and administer any vaccines due, including any overdue from childhood. Most importantly, make a strong recommendation for Tdap, HPV, and meningococcal vaccines. Don’t miss any opportunity. Find more ways to help increase immunization rates in the CDC’s provider resources.

Thank you for the important role you play in keeping our state healthy.