July 30, 2015
Minnesota strong and getting stronger when it comes to adolescent vaccination rates
Health officials say now is the time to make back-to-school immunization appointments
Minnesota’s adolescent immunization rates increased in 2014, according to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Minnesota’s rates are at or above national averages, and the state increase mirrors an overall improvement in rates across the country.
Health officials recommend that adolescents receive three vaccines: the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine; the meningococcal vaccine; and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. According to CDC, Minnesota exceeded the Healthy People 2020 target of 80 percent for Tdap in 2014 with a rate of 87 percent among teens 13-17 years. The data also showed that about 75 percent of adolescents had at least one dose of meningococcal vaccine. Immunization rates for HPV vaccine remained fairly steady, with about 60 percent of females having one dose. There was a significant increase in one dose of HPV vaccine for males (34 percent in 2013 to 42 percent in 2014). Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
The CDC data can be found at: National Immunization Survey (NIS) Data - Adolescents/Teens.
“We started at the bottom of a steep hill and have made good progress increasing immunization rates for adolescents, but we haven’t reached the summit yet,” said Kristen Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Division at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). “Getting to the top will mean more Minnesota adolescents are protected from serious diseases, which will help protect the entire community."
The CDC data come from its National Immunization Survey (NIS), a telephone survey that includes a relatively small sample size for each state. For a more comprehensive picture, state health officials use the Annual Immunization Status Report (AISR) that each Minnesota school is required to fill out every fall to report students’ vaccination status.
“Studies show school immunization requirements help protect individual kids and help reduce disease outbreaks in the community,” Ehresmann said. “However, we can’t rely solely on the law to make sure kids are protected. There are additional vaccines that are recommended but not required, such as HPV vaccine.”
The HPV vaccine protects against the strains of the virus that cause a large majority of cervical cancers and also most anal, vaginal, and throat cancers. Studies continue to show it is a safe and effective vaccine.
“HPV vaccine is cancer prevention,” Ehresmann said. “The first dose should be given at the same appointment as Tdap and meningococcal vaccines, which makes it very easy for parents to schedule one appointment.”
As the new school year approaches, here are some helpful tips for parents:
- Check your child's immunization history. For copies of your child's immunization records, talk to your clinic or call MIIC at 651-201-5503 or 800-657-3970.
- Get more information on the vaccines recommended for teens and preteens at Vaccines for Teens (vax4teens.org).
- Schedule an immunization appointment now to beat the back-to-school rush.
Health officials also urge parents and providers to use office visits for sports physicals and minor injuries or illnesses to make sure adolescents are up to date on their vaccines. MDH has an adolescent immunization website specifically for health care providers called wevaxteens.org.
If parents are worried about how much shots cost, ask your clinic about the Minnesota Vaccines for Children (MnVFC) program. The MnVFC program offers free or low cost shots to children 18 years old and younger who do not have medical insurance, are enrolled in Medicaid, are Native American or Alaska Native, or whose insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the vaccine.
More information is available on the MnVFC program website.