UTHealth Study Results Show HPV Vaccine Program Improved Vaccine Rates in Young People


HPV vaccine uptake increased almost 20% under guidance from the clinic-based program.

© Kt Stock - stock.adobe.com

HPV vaccine © Kt Stock - stock.adobe.com

A program focused on teen vaccinations created by UTHealth Houston was found to increase uptake of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to the results published earlier this month in Vaccines. Researchers found that the program called the Adolescent Vaccination Program (AVP), raised vaccination rates from 64.7% to 80.2%.

In addition to overall vaccine uptake during the Adolescent Vaccination Program, there were also an increase in completed vaccine series from 43.2% to 60.2%. The HPV vaccine is administered as a series of shots. Patients can start receiving them at age 9 and if two doses are administered before they are 14 years old, the series is considered complete. If the series begins after age 15, three total doses are needed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

The HPV vaccine protects against 9 HPV types that cause an estimated:

  • 90% of cervical and anal cancers
  • 90% of genital warts
  • 70% of oropharyngeal cancers
  • 75% of vaginal cancer
  • 69% of vulvar cancers
  • 63% of penile cancers

Nearly 13 million Americans are diagnosed with HPV every year. However, uptake of the vaccine has historically been low likely due to misconceptions that the vaccine is unnecessary. The vaccine is recommended early before someone becomes sexually active, the CDC says.

The Adolescent Vaccination Program was implemented in five clinics across San Antonio over four years. The program team, consisting of behavioral health scientists and a Baylor College of Medicine pediatric infectious disease specialist, used six different strategies that included electronic health record-based appointment reminders for patients and their parents, an educational app for parents called HPVcancerFree and a guideline for providers.

Researchers analyzed vaccination rates of nearly 6,500 patients ages 11 to 17. Further analysis of the data shows that not only did vaccine rates increase in a clinical setting, but that they outpaced rates of HPV vaccines in the general population when compared to data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen),

“These results are incredibly encouraging,” Lara Savas, Ph.D., lead researcher on the study and associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health said in a press release. “The AVP not only improved vaccination rates across diverse populations but also demonstrated resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful implementation of the AVP in a new clinic system also underscores its feasibility and scalability, offering hope for significant strides in HPV prevention nationwide.”

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