Ever since it appeared, the HPV vaccine has been extremely controversial. However, there are about 14 million people who become infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV) every year.Having the virus means you are exposed to a higher risk of getting various forms of cancer, especially cervical cancer.
Even if the number of girls who got the HPV vaccine increased last year, the data presented by the national immunization survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the vaccination rates are still low compared to other types of vaccines that children usually have.
Thus, it was shown that the number of teen girls having the vaccine was lower than the Tdap coverage by about 27 percent and lower than the meningococcal conjugate vaccine coverage by around 19 percent.
It is still notable that the HPV vaccination rates are going up, even if at a very slow pace. Compared to 2013, they increased by 3.3 percent, adding up t a total of 60 percent girls who got the vaccine.
The boys are even more reluctant to have the shot, as it was reported only 41. 7 percent decided to be injected with the ≥1 dose of the HPV vaccine. In 2014, the vaccination rate increased for them considerably, by 8.1 percent, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The experts at CDC believe this is a quite insignificant progress and more should be done to increase these rates:
” High Tdap and meningitis vaccination rates show that it’s possible to achieve high HPV vaccination rates with the current infrastructure, and that starts with reducing missed opportunities to give HPV vaccine,” said Anne Schuchat, who is an assistant surgeon general and chief of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
She also expressed her frustration that 4 out of 10 girls and 6 out of 10 boys haven’t begun their HPV vaccine series, which makes them much more vulnerable to types of cancer associated with the virus.
After looking at the numbers, she pointed out that the increase in vaccination rates is mainly due to older adolescent boys and girls, while she strongly recommends that the vaccine series start when the person is 11 or 12 years old.
Therefore, it is crucial for the parents to be onboard with the doctors’ recommendation to have their child vaccinated for HPV, just as they are with other types of vaccines.
It was also noticed that the areas where specialized support from the CDC’s Prevention and Public Health Fund was available recorded the highest vaccination rates.
Nevertheless, it is worrying that this is the second year in a row when very slight changes in the number of children getting the HPV vaccine have been recorded, while no progress was noted in 2011 and 2012.
A number of strategies should be employed to convince parents that the HPV vaccine is the best solution to future problems. These include educating providers about the importance of the vaccine, public campaigns, creating links between cancer NGOs and immunization organizations and promoting the vaccine to parents.
There are limitations to the study, including the fact that the numbers are based on data provided over the phone and there are many households where a phone is not even available. The small sample sizes also contribute to the unreliability of the overall estimates.
In spite of the disappointing rates, CDC representatives are confident that 2015 will bring a substantial increase in the number of people who get this vaccine because the access to information is expanding constantly, which makes it easier for parents to see how important it is to protect their children from the negative effects of HPV later on in life.
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