Although the vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, was first recommended for use in adolescents in the United States in 2006, immunization rates have lagged behind other childhood vaccines, with just 54% of 13- to 17-year-olds fully vaccinated in 2019. A new study finds that the rate of HPV vaccination improves, however, when adolescents are allowed to give consent to be vaccinated.
In Washington, D.C., and eight demographically and politically diverse states where adolescents have been permitted to obtain the HPV vaccine without parental consent, researchers found that initial vaccination rates were higher from 2015 through 2018: 68% of teens had initiated the multidose series, versus 61% in places where parental consent was needed.
Teens also had completed the series more often where they’d been allowed to consent independently: 54% were fully vaccinated compared with 48% in places requiring parental consent, though the difference was not statistically significant. The national study sample included nearly 82,000 teens between 13 and 17 years old.
For Dr. Sangini Sheth, study co-author and associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, the findings not only point to a possible avenue to improve HPV vaccination rates through public policy change, but also signal the need to further explore adolescents’ ability to reasonably give consent for certain health care services, as well as the individual and public health benefits at stake.
Read more at US News and World.