Vaccinating adolescents in high-risk settings: Lessons learned from experiences with hepatitis B vaccine

Vishnu Priya Sneller, Daniel B. Fishbein, Cindy M. Weinbaum, Andrea Lombard, Paula Murray, Jennie A. McLaurin, Lawrence Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Meeting the health needs of adolescents who live in high-risk settings such as homeless shelters, migrant camps, juvenile detention centers, prisons, and other types of residential facilities presents many challenges. Although there is no doubt that adolescents in many high-risk settings are at increased risk for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus, acute medical and psychological problems may consume all of the provider's time and resources. Potential health threats such as vaccine-preventable diseases must necessarily be given lower priority. Lack of vaccination expertise, supplies, and access to records further complicate delivery of vaccines. Since the 1990s, a number of approaches have been used to deliver hepatitis B vaccine to adolescents in many high-risk settings. Close collaboration among state and federal programs, local health departments, and community-based organizations has been necessary to introduce and sustain the delivery of vaccines to these young people. Medicaid, Statute 317 of the Public Health Service Act, the Vaccines for Children program, and State Children's Health Insurance Program have been used to finance vaccinations for adolescents 18 years or younger, and the expanded Medicaid option in the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 has been used for adolescents older than 18 years of age. A number of states allow adolescents under age 18 to consent to their own hepatitis B vaccination under laws passed to allow treatment of sexually transmitted infections without parental consent. In this article, we present the experiences of several model programs that developed successful hepatitis B vaccination programs in venues that serve adolescents at risk, the important role of state laws and state agencies in funding immunization and other preventive health services for adolescents in high-risk situations, and discuss barriers and means to resolve them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S55-S62
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Adolescents
  • High risk
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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