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HPV Vaccination Rates Need to Go Up, CDC Reports

Update Date: Jul 25, 2014 09:27 AM EDT
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A new federal report found that the United States vaccination rate for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is at an "unacceptably low" number. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stressed the importance of getting boys and girls to receive all three doses of the vaccine.

"Today I wish I had good news, but what I need to report is a small increase in HPV vaccinations." Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said reported by WebMD. "It is a relief that we did not continue to have flat-lining HPV coverage in 2013. You may recall that there was absolutely no improvement from 2011 to 2012. The increase [in 2013] we did see was small at the national level. We were disappointed at the overall finding."

In this recent report, the CDC found that based on the results from a 2013 survey, only 57 percent of girls and 35 percent of boys between the ages of 13 and 17 had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Around 33 percent of teen girls had gotten all three doses. The survey had reached more than 18,000 teens. The CDC currently recommends boys and girls starting at aged 11 and 12 to get the vaccine. The HPV vaccine protects against certain strains of the virus that can cause cervical cancer.

"Among all childhood vaccines, HPV is sort of the new kid on the block." Fred Wyand, a spokesman for the American Sexual Health Association, said. "But we don't think of this as a routine checklist item, the way we do with other vaccines . . . That will come in time."

The CDC's analysis also found that when girls are vaccinated with at least one dose before their 13th birthday, their protection rate against cancers caused by HPV is at 91 percent. The researchers believe that doctors need to talk to their young patients and parents about the benefits of getting the HPV vaccine.

"One of the top five reasons parents listed is that it hadn't been recommended to them by a doctor or nurse," the CDC's Dr. Schuchat told reporters at a press briefing according to NPR"Parents who aren't planning to vaccinate lacked knowledge and didn't hear a physician recommendation. We don't think it's an issue of politics. This is something that parents seem to be open to."

The report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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