Enhancing HPV Vaccination in Arizona: The Benefits of Early Initiation for Adolescents

Aug. 15, 2023

Arizona's commitment to improving adolescent health includes addressing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates, which are vital in preventing HPV-related cancers. A retrospective study conducted by researchers at Merck in North Wales, Pennsylvania, sheds light on the impact of early HPV vaccination initiation on coverage rates among Arizona teenagers.


Key Findings:

The study examined data from the National Immunization Survey (NIS)-Teen, 2017-2020. It focused on a retrospective cohort of nearly 20,000 Arizona adolescents aged 15 to 17 who received the HPV vaccine between ages 9 and 12. Findings showed that teenagers who were vaccinated at ages 9 or 10 had significantly higher rates of completing the vaccine series by ages 13 (74.0% vs. 31.3%) and 15 (91.7% vs. 82.7%) compared to those who initiated vaccination at ages 11 to 12. These results remained consistent after adjusting for various factors.


Implications for Arizona's Public Health:

The study highlights the potential benefits of moving routine HPV vaccination from ages 11 to 12 to ages 9 to 10 in Arizona. Early initiation may lead to improved vaccination coverage rates in early- and mid-adolescence, ultimately increasing the public health impact of HPV vaccination across the state. Since HPV immunization is most effective when administered before sexual debut, prioritizing early initiation is critical to maximizing vaccine effectiveness and reducing the burden of HPV-related cancers in Arizona's population.


Resources for HPV Vaccination: 

  1. Arizona Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program: Provides eligible children with free vaccines, including the HPV vaccine, to ensure that all adolescents have access to life-saving immunizations. Learn more about the program and find VFC providers in your area on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.


  1. Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS): AHCCCS offers comprehensive healthcare coverage for eligible children and adolescents in Arizona. To inquire about HPV vaccination coverage and locate participating providers, visit the AHCCCS website.


  1. Local Health Departments and Community Health Centers: Reach out to your local health department or community health center to access affordable or free HPV vaccinations for adolescents in Arizona. Many health centers serve uninsured or underinsured individuals, ensuring equitable access to preventive care.

By emphasizing the early initiation of HPV vaccination among Arizona teenagers, healthcare providers, and public health officials can increase the chances of completing the vaccine series, leading to greater protection against HPV-related diseases. Collaboration between state agencies, healthcare providers, and community organizations will be instrumental in raising HPV vaccination rates in Arizona and ultimately reducing the impact of HPV-related cancers on the state's population. Together, we can safeguard the health of Arizona's youth and foster a healthier future for all!