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Vaccines for Teens: Some States' Rates Lag

More U.S. Teens Getting Their Shots, but States Vary Widely
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Aug. 20, 2010 - More teens are getting their recommended vaccinations, but rates are still below target levels, the CDC reports.

There are two recommended vaccines for all teens:

  • One dose of menigococcal meningitis vaccine (MenACWY)
  • One dose of the tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough vaccine (Tdap)

One more vaccine is recommended for girls: three doses of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, to protect against cervical cancer and genital warts. Boys who want protection against genital warts may also get the vaccine, but it's not an official recommendation.

Are kids getting their recommended vaccinations? The overall news is good. 

Vaccination rates are up:

  • Tdap rates are up 15% to about 56% of all U.S. teens.
  • Meningitis vaccination rates are up 12% to about 54% of all U.S. teens.
  • Rates for HPV vaccination went up about 9% to about 27% of all U.S. teenage girls.

More than 60% of teens received all three of the recommended vaccines in four states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Mississippi Fares Poorly in Teen Vaccinations

But states vary widely in their teen vaccination rates. For example, 76.6% of Colorado teens have had their Tdap shots, but only 22.6% of Mississippi teens have received the vaccine. In fact, Mississippi trails the nation for all teen vaccines. 

The state in first place depends on the vaccine:

  • Tdap: Colorado (76.6%), Wisconsin (72.3%), New Hampshire (72.2%), and North Dakota (71.6%) had the highest vaccination rates. Mississippi (22.6%), Arkansas (34.6%), and Oklahoma (35.1%) had the lowest.
  • Meningitis vaccine: The District of Columbia (78.3%), Rhode Island (75.7%), and Maryland (74%) had the highest vaccination rates. Mississippi (19.3%), Arkansas (21.9%), and South Dakota (24.9%) had the lowest.
  • At least one of the three HPV doses for girls: Massachusetts (69%), Hawaii (65%), and South Dakota (62.4%) had the highest vaccination rates. Mississippi (22.9%), South Carolina (28.5%), and Idaho (30.2%) had the lowest.

Teens are also supposed to catch up on vaccinations they missed during childhood:

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