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Flu vaccine visits reveal missed opportunities for HPV vaccination



More than half of office visits where an adolescent receives an influenza vaccine represent missed opportunities to get a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to a study.

Teen male receiving vaccination Joseph Abbott/Thinkstock

Teen male receiving vaccination

“Overall in preventive visits, missed opportunities were much higher for HPV, compared to the other two vaccines” recommended for adolescents, MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and Tdap, Mary Kate Kelly, MPH, of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told attendees at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. “In order to increase vaccination rates, it’s essential to implement efforts to reduce missed opportunities.”

According to 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Ms. Kelly said, vaccine coverage for the HPV vaccine is approximately 66%, compared with 85% for the MenACWY vaccine and 89% for the Tdap vaccine.

Ms. Kelly and her colleagues investigated how often children or adolescents missed an opportunity to get an HPV vaccine when they received an influenza vaccine during an office visit. This study was part of the larger STOP HPV trial funded by the National Institutes of Health and aimed at implementing evidence-based interventions to reduce missed opportunities for HPV vaccination in primary care.

The researchers retrospectively reviewed EHRs from 2015 to 2018 for 48 pediatric practices across 19 states. All practices were part of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Pediatric Research in Office Settings (PROS) national pediatric primary care network. The researchers isolated all visits for patients aged 11-17 years who received their flu vaccine and were eligible to receive the HPV vaccine.

The investigators defined a missed opportunity as one in which a patient was due for the HPV vaccine but did not receive one at the visit when they received their flu vaccine.

The study involved 40,129 patients who received the flu vaccine at 52,818 visits when they also were eligible to receive the HPV vaccine. The median age of patients was 12 years old, and 47% were female.

In 68% of visits, the patient could have received an HPV vaccine but did not – even though they were due and eligible for one. The rate was the same for boys and for girls. By contrast, only 38% of visits involved a missed opportunity for the MenACWY vaccines and 39% for the Tdap vaccine.

Rates of missed opportunities for HPV vaccination ranged among individual practices from 22% to 81% of overall visits. Patients were more than twice as likely to miss the opportunity for an HPV vaccine dose if it would have been their first dose – 70% of missed opportunities – versus being a second or third dose, which comprised 30% of missed opportunities (adjusted relative risk, 2.48; P less than .001)).

“However, missed opportunities were also common for subsequent HPV doses when vaccine hesitancy is less likely to be an issue,” Ms. Kelly added.

It also was much more likely that missed opportunities occurred during nurse visits or visits for an acute or chronic condition rather than preventive visits, which made up about half (51%) of all visits analyzed. While 48% of preventive visits involved a missed opportunity, 93% of nurse visits (aRR compared with preventive, 2.18; P less than.001) and 89% of acute or chronic visits (aRR, 2.11; P less than .001) did.

Percentages of missed opportunities were similarly high for the MenACWY and Tdap vaccines at nurse visits and acute/chronic visits, but much lower at preventive visits for the MenACWY (12%) and Tdap (15%) vaccines.

“Increasing simultaneous administration of HPV and other adolescent vaccines with the influenza vaccine may help to improve coverage,” Ms. Kelly concluded.

The study was limited by its use of a convenience sample from practices that were interested in participating and willing to stock the HPV vaccine. Additionally, the researchers could not detect or adjust for EHR errors or inaccurate or incomplete vaccine histories, and they were unable to look at vaccine hesitancy or refusal with the EHRs.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and the National Research Network to Improve Children’s Health. The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.

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