Hartford Courant (11.11.2013)
The Hartford Courant recently reported that 58 percent of Connecticut females ages 13–17 received the initial dose of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, compared to the nationwide rate of 54 percent, according to 2012 data collected by the National Immunization Survey. The survey also indicated that Connecticut had a 44-percent completion rate for the three-dose HPV vaccine compared with a national average of 33 percent. National data indicated that 63 percent of Hispanic females had at least the first HPV vaccination, compared with 51 percent of whites and 50 percent of blacks. HPV vaccination rate lags behind vaccination rates for other diseases. The HPV vaccine series costs $400 for those without insurance.
CDC recommends three shots in six months for females ages 11–12, for females ages 13–26 who have not completed the vaccine series, and for boys. Linda Niccolai, associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and director of the HPV-Impact Project at the Yale Emerging Infections Program, attributed the state’s HPV vaccination rate to better health insurance coverage and rates and proactive healthcare providers.
Niccolai stated the federal Vaccines for Children program provided free HPV vaccination to adolescents, which would explain the “almost equal initiation rates” for all races. Niccolai received a Yale Cancer Center grant to develop a school-based HPV vaccination intervention that would ensure minorities and low-income adolescents received all three shots. Dr. Dara Richards, chief of pediatrics at Bridgeport’s Southwest Community Health Center, noted that some parents were concerned HPV vaccination would give teens permission to be promiscuous and feared the vaccination caused other health risks.
In 10 years, researchers would be able to report whether HPV vaccination reduced cervical cancer risk. Initial studies have indicated a drop in pre-cervical cancer.