Studies have proven that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the best method to prevent many types of cancer; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on July 30 that many adolescents have not begun the series of three vaccinations needed for protection.
On a positive note, the CDC notes that the number of 13- to 17-year-old boys and girls who have received getting the HPV vaccine increased slightly for the second year in a row. This information was attained from the agency’s 2014 National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen), which was published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
That increase has fallen well short of the mark—at present, 4 of 10 teen girls and 6 of 10 adolescent boys have not started the recommended HPV vaccine series; thus, leaving them at risk for cancers caused by HPV infections. Persistent HPV infections can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in females; cancers of the penis in men; and cancers of the anus and oropharynx (back of the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils) in males and females. The CDC recommends the vaccine for girls and boys at age 11 to 12 years.
The latest CDC estimates assert that 60% of adolescent girls and 42% of adolescent boys have received one or more doses of HPV vaccine. This marked a 3% increase for girls and an 8% increase for boys. There as a 3% overall increase nationally for first-dose HPV vaccine coverage among adolescent girls, a handful of state and local areas achieved much larger increases in coverage. “The large increases in these diverse parts of the country show us it is possible to do much better at protecting our nation’s youth from cancers caused by HPV infections,” explained Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. She added, “We are missing crucial opportunities to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV.”
Some of the promising approaches that have been effective in combination at increasing receipt of HPV vaccine include:
Establishing links between cancer organizations and immunization organizations to emphasize HPV vaccination is cancer prevention;
Healthcare provider education initiatives, including reminding doctors and nurses to take every opportunity to strongly recommend HPV vaccine, especially when they recommend the two other vaccines recommended at age 11 to 12 years (the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate and Tdap vaccines) and the annual flu vaccine;
Practice-based quality improvement efforts by state and local health departments, such as assessment of a clinic’s HPV vaccination coverage levels and providing feedback on how to improve coverage;
Public communication campaigns; and,
Reminder-recall interventions, such as using immunization information systems to send reminders to parents about vaccinations for which their child is due.
The relatively large increases in HPV vaccination seen in some states mask the lack of progress in other states. Every year, about 27,000 women and men in the United States are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection. HPV vaccination could prevent the majority of these cancers from ever developing.
Research has found that an effective recommendation from a healthcare professional is crucial to a parent’s decision to get the HPV vaccine for their child. The CDC encourages clinicians to recommend HPV vaccine the same way and same day they recommend other vaccines for teens. The CDC encourages parents and caregivers to talk to their child’s doctor or nurse at their next healthcare encounter. If a preteen or teen has not received all doses of these vaccines, make an appointment to get him or her vaccinated.
Preteens need four vaccines at ages 11 or 12 years to protect against serious diseases: quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine to protect against meningitis; HPV vaccine to protect against HPV infection and HPV cancers; Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, or whooping cough; and an annual flu shot to protect against seasonal flu. A second dose of meningococcal vaccine is needed at age 16.
For more information on the National Immunization Survey (NIS), click on this link.
For information regarding preteen and teen vaccines, click on this link.:
For information regarding HPV vaccine resources for healthcare professionals, click on this link.
For information regarding HPV vaccine information for parents and public, click on this link.