FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There was an increase in the number of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations per visit among children ages 9 to 22, despite a decline in overall vaccinations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19, according to a research letter published online Sept. 19 at JAMA Open Network.

Jenny KR Francis, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues characterized HPV vaccination by age and season from 2019 to 2021 to identify priority catch-up groups. The analysis included 4,548 patients aged 9 to 22 years who were seen for recovery or follow-up visits (10,469 encounters).

The researchers found that HPV vaccination rates were higher in 2021 (35.0 percent) and 2020 (35.6 percent) compared to 2019 (30.9 percent), despite a 19.3 percent decrease in vaccinations in 2021 compared to 2019. The lowest percentage of vaccinations was seen among the youngest relevant age group (9 to 10 years), accounting for 34.7 percent of vaccinations but only 0.3 percent of vaccinations. HPV vaccinations in winter 2020 were virtually unchanged from 2019, but vaccination rates in summer 2020 and 2021 did not reach pandemic vaccination rates in 2019.

“We found a steady increase in the number of HPV vaccinations per encounter between 2019 and 2021, despite a 19.3 percent decrease in total vaccinations,” the authors write. “The pandemic may have been due to providers feeling pressured not to miss vaccinations during face-to-face appointments.”

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