Half of Teen Girls are Not Getting the HPV Vaccine
The HPV vaccine, which protects against a range of cancers as well as genital warts, is safe and works very well, but just half of US girls have received it, health officials said Thursday.
And many are missing the shots even as they get other vaccinations during doctor visits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. That’s even though the vaccine is very effective and has already started to affect rates of infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV).
“One of the top reasons is their doctor didn’t recommend (it),” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden toLd reporters in a conference call.
“We are dropping the ball,” he added. “We are missing the opportunity to give HPV vaccine… This is a huge disappointment.”
Even so, studies have shown HPV infections fell by half after vaccines became available. “HPV vaccine works even better than we hoped,” Frieden says. “HPV vaccine is safe.”
The CDC says 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, which infects almost everyone at some point. Usually, the body can control it, but it can cause warts in the mouth and genitals in some people and it can cause cancer in unlucky patients. But cancer takes years to develop.
About 14 million people become newly infected each year.
A CDC survey found that about 54 percent of U.S. girls who should be vaccinated actually were in 2011. “If HPV vaccine had been administered during health-care visits when another vaccine was administered, vaccination coverage for one dose or more could have reached 92.6 percent,” the CDC said in a statement.
The human papilloma virus can cause head, neck, mouth, cervical and penile cancers.
The CDC says 26,200 people get cancer every year because of HPV. More than 10,000 are cervical cancer, and 6,700 and head, neck and mouth cancers.