Health & Science

HPV Vaccination Rates Are Lagging—Inadequate Information May Be To Blame

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If there was a vaccine that could protect your child from certain types of cancers, would you let them get it? There is, it’s the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, but not all parents are ensuring their children get it when they reach the right age, according to a new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics

From summits to webinars, the AAP is amplifying its message via its chapters around the country. The goal is to educate adolescents, parents, and physicians about the importance of the HPV vaccine, which protects against cancers of the cervix, penis, vagina, and mouth, among others. 

The most recent National Immunization Survey shows only about 68 percent of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 have received at least one dose, and only 51 percent were fully vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a two-dose series of the vaccine for 11- and 12-year-olds, but says vaccination can begin as early as age 9. The AAP also recommends the series begin sometime between the ages of 9 and 12. Despite these guidelines, HPV vaccination rates are lagging behind other vaccines that are also recommended for adolescents.

Previous research at Johns Hopkins University found some parents choose not to vaccinate their children out of safety concerns that it will encourage sexual activity, since HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. They also cite a lack of knowledge and the absence of physician recommendations, which is partly what spurred the AAP to make a statement.

To learn more about HPV, talk to your doctor and visit the CDC HPV website.

The former Content Director at Parenting, and several other brands, Ana Connery is a writer and content strategist whose work appears in USA Today, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, Cafe Mom/The Stir, Momtastic, and others.