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Vaccination in Rural Communities

Updated April 21, 2023

Many adolescents in rural communities are not getting the recommended vaccines to protect against serious diseases. Supporting healthcare professionals in effectively recommending vaccines and addressing parents’ concerns is a priority.

Despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines, fewer adolescents in rural areas are getting the HPV and meningococcal conjugate vaccines compared to adolescents in urban areas, leaving them vulnerable to serious diseases.

2018 National Immunization Survey Teen-Data

  • HPV vaccine (all recommended doses): 15 percentage points lower in rural areas compared to urban areas
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (2 or more doses): 20 percentage points lower in rural areas compared to urban areas
CDC recommends four vaccines for all 11 and 12 year old boys and girls:
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis
  • HPV vaccine to protect against HPV cancers
  • Tdap vaccine to protect against whooping cough
  • Annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal influenza

Watch CDC’s #HowIRecommend video series to get advice from practicing healthcare professionals on how to address common vaccine questions.

One factor that may be contributing to these results is fewer parents from rural areas reported receiving a recommendation for HPV vaccination from their child’s healthcare professional. However, when a recommendation is given, only 75% of parents accept the vaccine, suggesting there are other reasons teens aren’t getting vaccinated (e.g., concerns about vaccine safety, effectiveness, etc.).

Healthcare professionals in rural communities can play a critical role in their patients’ health by:

CDC has a number of resources to assist healthcare professionals with meeting the needs of parents to encourage vaccine acceptance.