Disparities in HPV Vaccine use
Published 12:31 pm, Saturday, November 23, 2013
When it comes to vaccinating adolescent females against human papillomavirus -- the most common sexually transmitted disease and the main cause of cervical cancer -- Connecticut boasts a slightly higher participation rate than the national average.
About 58 percent of females in the state received the initial HPV vaccine dose, compared with roughly 54 percent nationally, according to the National Immunization Survey, based on data from 2012 for girls ages 13-17.
But HPV vaccine is given in a series of three shots; one dose is not enough to give protection. Connecticut has a series completion rate of 44 percent, better than the national average of 33 percent, according to the survey. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the number of girls receiving the HPV vaccine nationally lags behind other vaccination rates and has "not moved forward."
The state's rate is "probably due to a combination of factors," said Linda Niccolai, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and director of the HPV-Impact Project at the Yale Emerging Infections Program.
"Health insurance coverage and rates are pretty good in Connecticut, but it's also possible that providers in Connecticut are more proactive in making sure their patients are vaccinated and parents are more aware of the need for the vaccination," she said.
The national data show that Hispanic females have the highest participation rate at 63 percent, followed by whites at 51 percent, and blacks at 50 percent.
But the national rate drops to 33 percent for completing shots two and three in the series. About 35 percent of Hispanics and white females complete the shot series, compared with 29 percent of black females. Data for Connecticut is not available based on ethnicity.