HPV vaccination per encounter increased for pediatric patients aged 9-22 despite a decrease in overall encounters associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a research letter published in JAMA Network Open. Jenny K. Rodriguez Francis, MD, MPH, and colleagues characterized HPV vaccination by age and season during 2019-2021 to identify catch-up priority groups. The analysis included 4,548 patients aged 9-22 being seen for well or follow-up visits (10,469 encounters). The percentage receiving HPV vaccination was higher in 2021 (35.0%) and in 2020 (35.6%) compared with 2019 (30.9%), despite a 19.3% decrease in the number of encounters in 2021 versus 2019. The lowest percentage of vaccinations was seen among the youngest eligible age group (9-10 years), representing 34.7% of encounters but only 0.3% of vaccinations. HPV vaccinations in winter 2020 versus 2019 were largely unchanged, but vaccination levels in summer of 2020 and 2021 did not catch up to pre-pandemic vaccination levels in 2019. “We found a steady increase in HPV vaccinations per encounter between 2019 and 2021 despite a [19.3%] decrease in overall encounters,” Dr. Rodriguez Francis and colleagues wrote. “The pandemic may have been associated with providers feeling pressured to not miss vaccination at in-person encounters.”

Flu Vaccine Offers Moderate Protection Against Stroke

Influenza vaccination appears to have a moderate protective effect against ischemic stroke, according to a study published in Neurology. Sara Rodríguez-Martín, PharmD, PhD, and colleagues examined the association between influenza vaccination and risk for a first ischemic stroke among individuals aged 40-99 with no history of stroke or
cancer; five controls were randomly selected per case and matched for exact age, sex, and date of stroke (index date; 14,322 incident ischemic stroke cases and 71,610 matched controls). Dr. Rodríguez-Martín and team observed that
41.4% and 40.5% of the cases and controls, respectively, were vaccinated, yielding a crude OR of 1.05. Vaccinated individuals had a higher prevalence of vascular risk factors, disease, and comedication; after full adjustment, the association of influenza vaccination with ischemic stroke yielded an adjusted OR of 0.88, which appeared early (adjusted OR [15-30 days], 0.79) and decreased over time (adjusted OR [>150 days], 0.92). The reduced risk was of similar magnitude for non-cardioembolic and cardioembolic stroke. “To be able to reduce your risk of stroke by taking such a simple action is very compelling,” a coauthor said in a statement.