Vaccinations remain the best way to protect people from the spread of communicable diseases, but vaccinations for conditions that are not communicable, such as different forms of cancer, have remained elusive. However, the Centers for Disease Control says an increasing number of teenagers are taking advantage of the HPV vaccine.
The HPV vaccine protects against cancers associated with the human papillomavirus such as cervical, vaginal, penile, anal, and throat cancers. Despite the vaccine’s effectiveness, many teenagers did not receive the vaccine, and less boys than girls received the vaccine. The vaccines are ideally given before young teens become sexually active, to help protect them against HPV-related cancers as they get older. Federal guidelines recommend that all children start a two-dose HPV vaccination at age 11 or 12.
Numbers of children receiving vaccinations have gone up since 2015. At that time, the CDC reported that four out of 10 adolescent girls and six out of 10 adolescent boys had not received any HPV vaccines. Overall, 60 percent of girls aged 13 to 17 in the age group and 42 percent of boys did receive one or more doses of the vaccine. These numbers are 3 percent higher for girls and 8 percent higher for boys compared to data from 2013.
In the new data from the CDC, the percentage of teenagers who reported getting at least one dose of the HPV vaccine increased from 60.4 percent to 65.5 percent between the years of 2016 and 2017. The percentage of teens who received a complete vaccination series rose from 43.4 percent to 48.6 percent. The data came from responses to the 2017 National Immunization Survey – Teen, which includes data from almost 21,000 U.S. teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17.
The CDC’s report answers the question about the implications of this data for public health care. “The increase in HPV vaccination coverage indicates that further efforts to address barriers to HPV vaccination initiation and series completion likely will lead to greater protection against HPV-associated cancers,” the report says.
The report also goes on to say that the largest increases in up-to-date vaccination status from 2016 to 2017 occurred in Virginia with an increase of 19.8 percentage points; Washington, D.C., with an increase of 16.0 points; and South Carolina with an increase of 13.6 points.
Nebraska also increased (12.4), as did Dallas, Texas (11.8); Louisiana (11.1); North Carolina (10.7); Massachusetts (8.9); Vermont (8.8); and Texas as a state (6.8).