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    Has HPV vaccine coverage stalled?



    Despite significant annual increases in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination coverage among adolescent girls during the period 2007 to 2011, coverage with at least 1 dose of the vaccine leveled off from 2011 to 2012 at about 53%, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    As of 2012, only about one-third (33.4%) of girls between the ages of 13 and 17 years have received all 3 recommended doses of HPV vaccine, which is actually a slight decrease from 2011 when it was 34.8%.

    And the sad part is that the vaccine really does seem to work. A recent study showed a drop of 56% in the number of HPV infections occurring in girls aged 14 to 19 years from the 4-year period preceding the introduction of the vaccines to the 4-year period after the vaccines became available.

    Why are so few girls vaccinated? It appears that parents still do not have a good understanding of why the vaccine is needed. According to the CDC’s report, almost one-quarter (23%) of the parent respondents to the 2012 National Immunization Survey-Teen (NIS-Teen) reported that they did not intend to vaccinate their daughters during the next year. When asked why, the top 5 answers were: vaccine not needed (19.1%); vaccine not recommended (14.2%); safety concerns (13.1%); lack of knowledge about the vaccine or the disease (12.6%); and daughter is not sexually active (10.1%).

    The report went on to say that if HPV vaccine had been administered during health care visits when another vaccine was administered—the researchers view these as “missed opportunities”—vaccination coverage for 1 or more doses could have approached 92.6%. Instead, the percentage of unvaccinated girls with at least 1 missed opportunity for HPV vaccination increased from 20.8% in 2007 to 84.0% in 2012. 

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