Nebraska teens are leading the way, in the top 5, in getting vaccinated compared to other adolescents across the country. 

A Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Health of America study (HOA) shows adolescents born in 2003 and 2004, are getting HPV, Meningococcal and Tdap immunizations at a higher rate.  The study is based on a comprehensive look at medical claims from Blues plans across the country.

“I’m very pleased to see that Nebraska is a for-runner in HPV vaccination,” Dr. Debra Esser, chief medical officer said. “It needs to be top of mind when young people see their doctors for school physicals and sports physicals. To get caught up with those immunizations.”

HPV is short for human papillomavirus that in most cases, goes away on its own and does not cause health problems.  But when HPV doesn’t go away, it can lead to some forms of cancer. The Meningococcal vaccine protects against some bacteria that can cause meningitis and sepsis. The Tdap vaccine protects against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough.

Nationally, teens in the HOA study had a much lower rate of receiving the HPV vaccine.  Many did not complete the second dose.

Nebraska females were more likely to receive both HPV doses (2003 – 62.8 percent and 2004 – 63.4 percent) compared to males 2003- 54.1 percent and 2004-58.2 percent).

Immunizations in rural Nebraska lag behind urban areas.  Just 55 percent of teens born in 2004 in rural areas got an HPV vaccination compared to nearly 68 percent in urban areas.

“We still have a lot to do, because even at number 5, we only have 70 percent protection of our children so it’s really important for parents to complete the vaccine series,” Esser said

Esser says despite the disparities, Nebraska physicians are doing a good job and those participating in value-based care and patient-centered medical homes will have even more incentive next year to make sure teens get their required immunizations.