CDC Report Shows Stagnated HPV Vaccination Rate for Girls 


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For the first time since the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine became available for adolescent girls in 2006, the vaccination rate for teenagers has stalled, according to data published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The data stems from the 2012 National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen), which the CDC uses to track vaccination coverage among teenagers.

While vaccination coverage with at least a single dose of the HPV vaccine increased from 25.1% in 2007 to 53.0% in 2011, coverage rates among girls aged 13 to 17 remained virtually unchanged from 2011 to 2012, with 53.8% receiving one dose of the vaccine and only 33.4% receiving all three of the recommended doses.

“We’re used to seeing coverage increases of 10% per year when a new vaccine hits the market. HPV vaccine coverage hasn’t kept pace with other vaccines recommended for preteens and teens,” said Thomas R. Frieden, MD, Director of the CDC.

Since mid-2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended routine vaccination of adolescent girls at ages 11 or 12 with three doses of the HPV vaccine. The same guidance was issued for boys in 2011. According to the CDC, about 79 million Americans are infected with HPV and approximately 14 million become newly infected each year. HPV has been linked to cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers. Each year, more than 20,000 HPV-associated cancers occur in women, with cervical cancer the most common; and about 12,000 HPV-associated cancers occur in men, with oropharyngeal cancers the most common, according to the CDC.

Improving the HPV Vaccination Rate

The report highlighted three areas that need to be addressed to improve HPV vaccination coverage, including:

  • Parent education. According to the NIS-Teen survey, three of the five main reasons parents gave for not vaccinating their daughters were that the vaccine was not needed, lack of knowledge, and that their daughter was not sexually active. They also cited safety concerns.
  • Health-care providers must increase the strength of HPV vaccination recommendations. “Studies have documented that, especially when counseling younger adolescents or their parents, providers give weaker recommendations for HPV vaccination compared with other vaccinations recommended for adolescents,” said the report. Because provider recommendations greatly influence parental acceptance, the CDC developed a tip sheet to help providers answer parents’ questions about the vaccine.
  • Missed vaccination opportunities need to be reduced. “If HPV vaccine had been administered during health-care visits when another vaccine was administered, vaccination coverage for one dose could have reached 92.6%,” according to the report. ■

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