Improving Vaccine Rates for Adolescents

Fall 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends four vaccines for adolescents:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap)
  • Meningococcal disease (MCV4)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (Flu)

Overall, the general public is less knowledgeable and less aware of the importance of adolescent vaccinations. Parents and adolescents may not understand the need for these vaccines, details about vaccine safety, or the serious­ness of these vaccine-preventable diseases. They may have misconceptions regarding the safety of these vaccines, but their acceptance of vaccinations may increase once this information is explained to them.

Communication between providers, parents and adoles­cents is key. Education is an effective method of changing attitudes toward vaccination. Increasing their knowledge about the importance of adolescent vaccines in a way that they can understand may change their views.

Providers should utilize all health visits to vaccinate adolescents so no opportunity is missed. It is more effica­cious to vaccinate adolescents at acute or follow-up care visits than it is to wait for well-care visits.

What providers can do to ensure your patients get fully vaccinated:

  • Strongly recommend adolescent vaccines to parents. Parents trust your opinion more than anyone else’s when it comes to vaccinations. Studies consistently show that provider recommendation is the strongest predictor of vaccination.
  • Use every opportunity to vaccinate. Ask about vaccina­tion status at every adolescent visit.
  • Patient reminder and recall systems such as automated postcards, phone calls and text messages are effective tools for increasing office visits.
  • Implement standing orders policies so patients can receive vaccines without a physician examination or an individual physician order.