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Home HPV Vaccines HPV Vaccines HPV Vaccine Uptake Remains Low

HPV Vaccine Uptake Remains Low

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A survey of parents of teenagers finds that fewer than half of girls in the U.S. have been vaccinated against HPV.

Two HPV vaccines are available in the U.S, Merck’s Gardasil and GSK’s Cervarix. Both protect against the two HPV types found with about 70% of cervical cancers worldwide; the Merck vaccine also protects against the HPV types that cause about 90% of genital warts. The vaccines are highly effective in blocking persistent infections and diseases related to the HPV types they cover. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends routine use of either vaccine with all girls ages 11-12, with “catch-up” for females through age 26 who have not previously been vaccinated.

Despite these recommendations, The National Immunization Survey on teen vaccine immunization coverage rates (NIS-Teen) indicates most girls aren’t being vaccinated against HPV. NIS-Teen, a random survey of approximately 1,900 parents of 13-17 year olds, gives an annual snap shot of the percentage of children receiving three vaccines-HPV, tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap), and meningococcal conjugate (MCV4)- that are recommended for routine use at ages 11-12. The 2010 statistics for two of the vaccines are encouraging: Tdap coverage is at 69%, a 13 point jump from 2009, while 63% of teens have received MVC4, up from 54% in 2009. HPV lags, though, with only 49% of teenage girls receiving the first dose in series (versus 44.3% in 2009). When looking at those who completed the entire vaccine series, a paltry 32% have received all three-dose series (the figure in 2009 was 27%).

Why the disappointing number of HPV? In a teleconference announcing the data, the CDC’s Dr. Melinda Wharton said it might be a combination of factors including lack of parental awareness and the inconvenience of a multi-dose series. She says health care providers can help by strongly recommending their young female patients be vaccinated, as the opinions of doctors and nurses carry tremendous influence with parents and may counter reluctance to giving an HPV vaccine as young ages. Another idea is to schedule both follow-up visits when the first dose is administered.

Read the full report online.