HPV vaccination rates 'unacceptably low,' says CDC

"Our system is clearly missing many opportunities," said Anne Schuchat.
By Brooks Hays   |   July 24, 2014 at 4:28 PM

WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- Not enough doctors are encouraging teens and young adults to get the HPV vaccination, which guards against the human papillomavirus, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and one that can lead to the development cervical cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer and throat cancer. That according to a new report from the CDC.

The CDC's report found that HPV vaccination rates among adolescent boys and girls was up slightly between 2012 and 2013, but that rates remain "unacceptably low." Some 57 percent of girls and 35 percent of boys between the ages of 13 and 17 years have received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine.

There two drugs traditionally used in HPV vaccination -- Cervarix and Gardasil -- are usually delivered via three shots over the course of six months. But the treatment remains underutilized, the CDC says, despite its safety and effectiveness at preventing cancer. Only about a third of girls get all three doses of the vaccine.

The CDC collected the results through their National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen). The health agency announced the report's less-than-compelling results at a press conference Thursday.

"Today, I wish I had good news, but what I need to report is a small increase in HPV vaccination," said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.

"Our system is clearly missing many opportunities" she said. "It is a relief that we did not continue to have flatlining in HPV vaccines," she added. The CDC's prior report on HPV vaccination showed that no progress was made between 2011 and 2012.

HPV is the world's most common STD. It has a variety of strains, including less threatening types like HPV-6 and HPV-11, which can cause warts around genitalia, as well as more threatening types, like HPV-16 and HPV-18, which are associated with a variety of cancers.

The CDC report emphasizes that public health officials must continue to lobby doctors to recommend HPV vaccinations for all at-risk patients. Authors of the report also stressed the importance of continuing to educate parents on the importance of these vaccinations.

"Collaborative efforts remain critical to promoting HPV vaccination so that the nation's adolescents are protected against vaccine-preventable, HPV-associated cancers," the report reads.

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