New figures from CDC show that while significantly more US teens were immunized against meningitis and whooping cough last year compared to 2010, increases for human papillomavirus vaccination were far less significant. HPV is linked to nearly all cases of cervical cancer as well as cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva. Vaccination against the STD is recommended at ages 11 or 12, prior to sexual debut.
CDC researchers used data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen to assess vaccination coverage among adolescents ages 13-17. They found the proportion of girls completing the three-shot HPV vaccine series ranged from about 57 percent in Rhode Island to under 16 percent in Arkansas. Coverage rates in the South were lower compared to the West and Northeast, CDC said.
From 2010 to 2011, the proportion of girls receiving one of more doses of HPV vaccine increased only slightly, from 49 percent to 53 percent, while the proportion getting all three shots went from 32 percent to less than 35 percent.
In a news release CDC noted, “Like the previous year, poor and minority teen girls who start the three-dose HPV series have lower rates of finishing it. Coverage was also lower for younger girls, meaning 11- and 12-year-olds are not getting the vaccine as recommended.”
“Stronger health care provider recommendations for HPV vaccination, implementation of reminder/recall systems, elimination of missed opportunities for vaccination, and education of parents of adolescents regarding the risk for HPV infection and the benefits of vaccination are needed to protect adolescents from HPV-related cancers,” wrote Dr. Christina Dorell and colleagues. Administering the HPV vaccine when other teenage shots are given would improve the HPV vaccine coverage rates, the researchers said.
[PNU editor’s note: The study, “National and State Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Ages 13-17 Years – United States, 2011,” was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2012;61(34):671-677).]
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