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Report Finds HPV Vaccinations Have Slowed in 2012

Update Date: Jul 26, 2013 03:41 PM EDT
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The human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to several health complications such as cervical cancer, anal cancer, oral cancer and genital warts. This sexually transmitted infection (STI) can be prevented to a certain extent with current day HPV vaccinations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all girls from the ages of 11 and up receive all three doses of the vaccine. Despite this recommendation, a new report found that vaccinations have stalled in 2012.

According to the report, within the first five years that the vaccination entered the market, the vaccination rates were increasing at a good pace. By 2011, the percentage of girls who received their first dose of the vaccine was over 50 percent. However, in 2012, that percentage appeared to have stalled and stayed within 53 percent.

"Coverage for girls getting this anti-cancer vaccine has not increased at all from one year to the next. Zero," Tom Frieden, the CDC Director, said to USA Today. "We're dropping the ball. We're missing opportunities to give the HPV vaccine. That needs tot change to protect girls from cervical cancer."

The report's findings suggest that more needs to be done to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated. Based on previous surveys, the CDC has discovered that a lot of parents are still not aware of the vaccines because their doctors never brought it up. Other reasons include concerns about the safety of the vaccines and the belief that their child does not need it. Some parents feared that the vaccine might be indirectly telling young girls to become sexually active since HPV is transmitted through sex. The CDC reminded parents that studies have not found any increased sexual activity post vaccination.

"Multiple studies have found that preteens and teens who receive this vaccine do not have sex any sooner than their peers who have not received the vaccine," Frieden added. "HPV vaccine does not open the door to sex. HPV vaccine closes the door to cancer."

The CDC first recommended that all young girls get the vaccine in 2006. The vaccine is supposed to protect women against 70 percent of cervical cancers as well as 90 percent of genital warts. Studies have found the vaccine to be highly effective.

Despite the reported effectiveness of the vaccine, the HPV vaccines on the market today are hard to sell. The vaccination process involves three dosages administered within a certain time frame. If insurance companies do not cover the vaccines, it can cost parents a couple hundred of dollars for the full course.

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

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