Get Adolescent Vaccination Back on Track:

Spring 2021

The United States is facing a significant vaccination gap for school-age children, especially adolescents, due to the pandemic. Here’s what we know:

  • Overall ambulatory provider visits fell nearly 60% in the spring of 2020. While visits have since resumed, a wellness visit gap was created.
  • As of February 28, 2021, overall Vaccines for Children (VFC) provider orders (other than flu) are down by almost 11.2 million doses with MMR/MMRV down by 1.4 million doses.
    • Vaccines for young children are down 5-10%
    • Adolescent vaccinations are down 17-21%
  • Of additional concern are gaps in public versus private sector care. Public sector adolescent doses lag behind the private sector.

HPV vaccinations are down over 1 million doses in the public sector alone, jeopardizing progress we’ve made with a cancer prevention vaccine.


It is crucial that we catch up adolescent vaccination earlier than usual in 2021 to catch up and ensure a safe return to in-person schooling.

March to May needs to be go-time to catch up on missed vaccination and bring in children newly due for their immunizations. If a COVID-19 vaccine receives emergency authorization for rollout, adolescents age 12 and older will have a 6-8 week black-out period of time when they cannot receive other vaccines before, during or after the COVID-19 vaccine…we must catch up and vaccinate early!

To ensure a safer return to in-person learning, the CDC is calling upon health systems and health care providers to take swift action to bring in patients for well child visits and vaccinations this spring.

To speed up communications, we’ve created new resources to communicate to staff and patients:

Health System Infographic: provides an at-a-glance overview of the adolescent vaccination gap data and concerns and outlines steps for health systems to take now.

Communications content: This communications resource provides language for your organization’s social media and newsletter channels. Social messages address themes of protection, safety, a safe return to school and access when insurance status changes.

Social media: This flyer links to six separate social media shareables to drive catch up vaccination in Spring 2021. Messages are for parents and address themes including safety, protection, access, insurance, and clinic readiness. Individual jpgs also accessible on our Social Media Shareables webpage.

Parent Playlist: a suite of videos messaging to parents of adolescents. New videos address the need to vaccinate and catch up on missed vaccines and help message safety of clinic protocols.

Health Systems Playlist: A suite of videos to inform population health and quality improvement leaders and immunizers on the importance of prioritizing an adolescent vaccination plan.

CDC Letter: A call to action letter from Dr. Messonnier outlining the urgent need to catch up school age children on vaccination. Released March 2021.

Promising Practices for Adolescent Immunization During COVID-19: a white paper summarizing input from health systems and immunizers on adaptations made during the summer 2020 pandemic period.

Vaccination During COVID-19: Curated webpage with resources from national organizations to help guide decision making and processes during the pandemic.

Jump to:

Why Prioritize HPV Vaccination?

We would argue that protecting patients against future cancers is the right thing to do.

Consider this as well: Does your current HPV vaccination rate represent your organizational commitment to adolescent population health?  

If not, let us tell you why your health system should prioritize HPV vaccination:

1. Prevent Cancer

HPV vaccination helps prevent 6 cancers (check out the latest evidence) and properly immunizing your patients is the standard of care.

2. Achieve the triple aim

HPV vaccination delivers on the triple aim: 

  • It improves the patient experience of care
  • It improves the health of populations
  • It reduces the per capita cost of health care

3. Improve population health

Health systems have access to large numbers of patients offering robust opportunity for significant impact on cancer prevention. HPV vaccination protects adolescents from becoming adults with HPV cancers and builds “herd” immunity. Check out this article from AMGA’s Group Practice Journal in October 2019.

4. Improve key performance measures

Payers may encourage improvements to adolescent measures in alignment with Healthy People 2020, HEDIS or the Medicaid core set for children. Your system may have incentive opportunities to explore.

5. Provide Leadership

Without an organizational imperative, providers and/or clinic sites may not know their HPV vaccination rates or current HPV vaccination guidelines and messaging. The mission needs to come from the top. Our Action Guide for Large Health Systems outlines how leadership can implement the requisite changes. 

Spotlight: Health System Success Stories

Why start from scratch when you can learn from early adopters?  Learn of implementation recommendations from several health systems that have already undertaken HPV initiatives in their systems.

Health System Case Studies

Advocate Health Care

Advocate Health Care is the largest health system in Illinois, with 6,000 physicians in an integrated network and 200 sites of care and specialty clinics from Chicago to central Illinois. Physicians are both employed and aligned with the system.

Kelsey-Sebold Clinic

Kelsey-Seybold Clinic is a large multi-specialty clinic system located in Greater Houston, Texas which includes 425 providers that care for a half-million
patients annually in more than 55 medical specialties at 20 locations.

Sanford Health

Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sanford Health includes 44 medical centers, 482 clinics, more
than 2,000 providers, and over 9,000 registered nurses who provide services in 26 states and 9 countries. Sanford serves over 40,000 adolescents ages 11-17.

Lessons Learned Videos

Cook Children’s Healthcare System

Interventions for Health Systems

We have resource galore from our member organizations to support interventions.

Communication Resources

We have resource galore from our member organizations to support interventions.

Survivor Stories

Hearing from an HPV cancer survivor may be compelling to your system leadership and staff. Listen to first person and caretaker accounts of why we should prevent HPV cancers.

Invite a Survivor Speaker to Your Event