HPV Vaccine Rates Are Too Low for Girls, Nonexistent for Boys

A new CDC report says too many teens are not getting vaccinated against HPV.

tween girl getting vaccine shot
Photo: Shutterstock

HPV vaccination rates are too low among both teen girls and boys, according to a new CDC study. This is alarming, given that 14 million cases of the cancer-causing virus are diagnosed in the United States each year, and unvaccinated teens can spread it to others.

HPV basics

The Centers for Disease Control recommends kids get their first dose of the vaccine at age 11 or 12, to protect against human papillomavirus, which can be sexually transmitted and cause cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus. The aim is to vaccinate kids before they have a chance of becoming sexually active.

Study findings

Researchers looked at 2013 vaccination data from 626,000 girls at age 13 and determined all three required doses were given to a median number of just 12 percent of girls covered by private insurance, and 19 percent covered by Medicaid.

What is even worse is that teen boys are not getting vaccinated, possibly because doctors are not recommending the immunization series, or due to misinformation about who actually needs it.

What can be done?

"Increasing delivery of HPV vaccination at the recommended ages of 11 or 12 years, before most adolescents are exposed to the virus, can ensure adolescents are protected against HPV infections and associated cancers," the report said.

Ask your doctor if you have any questions about when and why your child should get vaccinated. You could potentially save his or life with just three injections.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

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