CDC: Many Teens Receive the Cancer-Preventing Vaccine Against HPV

In 2016, 60% of teens aged 13 to 17 years received at least 1 dose of the HPV vaccine.

A new report conducted by the CDC indicates that 6 out of 10 parents are choosing to vaccinate their children against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is known to cause numerous types of cancer.

The CDC currently recommends that children aged 11 to 12 years receive 2 doses of the HPV vaccine to protect against HPV-linked cancers. While most children receive the first dose, many do not receive the second, highlighting areas for improvement, according to the CDC.

“I’m pleased with the progress, but too many teens are still not receiving the HPV vaccine — which leaves them vulnerable to cancers caused by HPV infection,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD. “We need to do more to increase the vaccination rate and protect American youth today from future cancers tomorrow.”

Children who receive the first dose of the HPV vaccine prior to age 15 need 2 doses of the vaccine, but those who receive the vaccine between the ages of 15 and 26 need 3 doses for optimal protection against HPV, according to the CDC.

The National Immunization Survey-Teens (NIS-Teen) examines vaccinations among adolescents. The investigators found that 60% of teens aged 13 to 17 years received at least 1 dose of the HPV vaccine in 2016, which was a 4% increase from 2015, according to the study.

Notably, the authors found that an increasing number of boys are receiving the vaccine, narrowing the vaccination rates between boys and girls. The CDC report found that 65% of girls and 56% of boys receive the first dose of the vaccine, a 6% increase for boys since 2015.

Despite the gains in vaccination, the CDC reports that only 43% of all teens are up to date on the recommended doses of the HPV, which may leave them vulnerable to infection.

Additionally, vaccination rates were lower in rural and less urban areas compared with urban areas, according to the study.

Since the vaccine was first introduced 10 years ago, physicians have been working to get children vaccinated against HPV in order to improve prevention of certain cancers.

In 2016, the CDC updated its guidelines to reflect new findings that show administering 2 doses of the vaccine to younger patients provides similar protection to 3 doses in older adolescents and young adults.

More recent data show that vaccination has caused HPV infection rates to plummet, highlighting the importance of vaccination. Since its introduction, infections with cancer-associated HPV strains and those that cause genital warts have decreased by 71% among teenage girls and 61% among young women, according to the CDC.

“Recent changes to the vaccine recommendations mean preventing cancer is easier now than ever before,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Now is the time for parents to protect their children from cancers caused by HPV.”