By Karla Sullivan
Officials announced this week that girls and boys aged 13 to 17 years old receiving the HPV vaccine remains unacceptably low, according to the latest report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This information was published in the National Immunization Survey.
The HPV vaccine prevents various forms of cancer but, unfortunately, the vaccine still remains underutilized. There is a substantial gap between the number of adolescents receiving tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines and the number receiving the HPV vaccine.
It is estimated that only 57 percent of adolescent girls and 35 percent of adolescent boys received one or more doses of the HPV vaccine. However, nearly 86 percent of adolescents had received one dose of the Tdap vaccine.
“The high coverage rate of Tdap vaccine shows us that it is certainly possible to reach our goal of vaccinating 80 percent of adolescents against cancers caused by HPV,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The CDC estimates that if missed opportunities to vaccinate adolescent girls before their thirteenth birthdays were eliminated, 91 percent of adolescent girls would have some protection from cancers caused by the infection.
“Pediatricians and family physicians are uniquely situated to prevent missed opportunities by giving the HPV vaccine during the same visit they give the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines,” Schuchat said.
Only one-third of adolescent girls received the recommended series of three doses of HPV vaccine.
“It’s frustrating to report almost the same HPV vaccination coverage levels among girls for another year,” Schuchat said. “Preteens need the HPV vaccine today to be protected from HPV cancers tomorrow.”
Through the Affordable Care Act, more Americans can get access to the health care coverage that fits their needs and budget, including important preventive services such as the HPV vaccine.