Appleton Post-Crescent (07.25.2013)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates have slowed noticeably since the vaccine first became available. In 2006, CDC recommended that all girls ages 11 and older receive the three doses of HPV vaccine, which protects women against 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. In the first five years, vaccination rates increased; by 2011, 53 percent of girls had received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, 2012 vaccination rates leveled off at 53.8 percent, according to a recent report in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The vaccine has proven to be highly effective, decreasing HPV incidence among teenage girls by 56 percent since it became available in 2006, according to a study released in June. In 2011, CDC recommended that boys also should be vaccinated to prevent cancers caused by HPV.
Reasons for the lack of participation included parents’ belief that their daughter did not need the vaccine, doctors failing to recommend the vaccine, safety concerns, lack of knowledge about both the vaccine and the disease, and parents’ thinking that their daughter did not need it because she was not sexually active. Some parents feared their daughters would interpret the vaccine as permission to have sex, and others worried about stories of serious adverse reactions.
In the United States, federal agencies and vaccine manufacturers monitor vaccine safety. So far, of more than 56 million doses given since 2006, monitors have recorded 21,194 adverse events, such as pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site; and 1,674 serious adverse events including headache, nausea, fainting, dizziness, vomiting, and weakness. Cindy Weinbaum, medical epidemiologist with CDC’s immunization safety office, stated that there have been no deaths linked to the vaccine.
CDC Director Tom Frieden explained in a telephone briefing that the vaccination was given to young girls to protect them when they are adults. He expressed disappointment with the low rate, but was confident that it would improve. Frieden stated that the HPV vaccine worked, was safe, and was effective at reducing cancer.