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More teens getting HPV vaccines, but not enough, CDC reports

August 26, 2011|By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
  • More teenage girls are getting vaccinations against human papilloma virus -- but that's still not enough, a new report says.
More teenage girls are getting vaccinations against human papilloma virus… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Popular fears about vaccines -- including the belief that the measles, mumps and rubella shot causes autism -- are unfounded, a study released Thursday by the Institute of Medicine reported.

But another report released Thursday, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted with some alarm that many parents still shun another recommended vaccine: the three-shot series that protects against human papilloma virus (HPV), a widespread sexually transmitted virus, some types of which can cause cervical cancer.

The CDC recommends the vaccine for 11- and 12-year-old girls, and suggests that older teenage girls who have not yet had the shots get it, too.  

About 49% of teenage girls have received at least one dose of the vaccine, an improvement of about 4% over the previous year, the agency reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  But rates of immunization against tetanus, diphteria and pertussis, and meningococcal meningitis -- also recommended for teens -- increased more steeply, from about 56% to about 69%, and from about 54% to about 63%, respectively.

Three-dose coverage for HPV was especially low for blacks, Hispanics and girls living in poverty, the report noted -- populations known to have higher rates of cervical cancer.  

"Stronger provider recommendations for HPV vaccination, implementing reminder-recall systems, eliminating missed opportunities, and educating parents of adolescents regarding the risk of HPV and the benefits of vaccination, are needed to effectively protect adolescent girls against cervical cancer," the authors wrote.

The data came from the CDC's National Immunization Survey-Teen, which polls more than 19,000 kids between 13 and 17 each year.  The report is available here.

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