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HPV Infection Rates Drop 56% Since Vaccines Introduced

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A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in the June 2013 issue ofThe Journal of Infectious Diseases shows that in the first four years after an HPV vaccine came on the market, infections with the HPV types covered by the vaccine dropped in 14-19 year old girls by 56%. The kicker? Only about half of adolescent girls have had even one of the shots in the series, and fewer than 1/3 have had all three doses!

The first HPV vaccine came on the market in 2006, followed by a second one in 2009. HPV vaccines are routinely recommended for females ages 11-12, and also for those ages 13-26 who have not previously been vaccinated. One of the vaccines is also available for males in the same age range.

The CDC’s goal is having 80% of girls and young women receive the vaccine, so imagine the extent to which HPV and related diseases could be decreased if vaccine rates matched that lofty number. A number of barriers to increased vaccine rates exist, including the fact a number of parents still don’t think their kids need the shots. A key here might be stronger recommendations from healthcare providers to parents in support of HPV vaccination. While the vast majority of providers indicate they do offer the vaccine to teens, surveys indicate they often do so at older ages than 11-12 year old range which is optimal for the vaccine’s success in blocking HPV infections.