The number of teenage girls being inoculated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus has stalled according to the latest data from the CDC, prompting top public health officials to issue a call to action for doctors to do a better job getting the word out to patients and families.
“These national data show no progress, zero, with HPV vaccine coverage in 2012,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden told reporters July 25. “We're used to seeing coverage increases of 10 percent per year when a new vaccine hits the market. This is a huge disappointment, but I’m confident that we will turn it around.”
The new data shows the national HPV vaccination rate stagnated in 2012, after years of steadily climbing. In 2012, only about 54 percent of girls had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine and only about 33 percent got all three doses of the series. Health care providers need to get the message out to patients and their families that the vaccine is safe and effective, Frieden said.
“We asked parents why they haven't gotten their daughters vaccinated. And one of the top reasons is that their doctors didn't recommend it,” Frieden said. “This is critical. Research consistently showed that a provider's recommendation to vaccinate is the single most influential factor in determining whether a parent gets their kid vaccinated. So we need to step up our efforts by talking to parents about the importance of this vaccine.”
Approximately 79 million people across the country are infected with HPV, which can cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer among women; penile cancer among men; and anal and some oropharyngeal cancers among both men and women, according to the CDC. About 26,200 new cancers attributable to HPV occur each year in the U.S. Because cancers attributable to HPV occur years after infection, public health officials say it takes decades before vaccinations make a documentable impact in preventing cancer.
In this Expert’s Corner video, UMMS faculty experts Erin Barlow, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics, and Anne Powell, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, stress the importance of HPV vaccinations.