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HPV Vaccination Rates Increasing Among Teenagers

Even since the HPV vaccines were developed, healthcare workers have found it hard to get teenagers vaccinated. Government and other medical agencies have spent millions of dollars on ads to promote the HPV vaccine, but vaccination rates have remained less than 40%.

Part of the reluctance to get vaccinated is the confusing data and a strong anti-vaccine movement which has created unnecessary fear in the public. In addition, a number of secular religious leaders and other prominent politicians have argued that the HPV vaccine may make people more promiscuous and lead to the development of other sexually transmitted infections.

However, things finally may be changing for the better. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that finally at least 60% of American teenagers are getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus. Over the past few years, the CDC has noted that there is a rising trend towards vaccination. Ten years, vaccination rates were less than 30%.

The HPV vaccine has been well studied and there is clear evidence that it can protect against several strains of the human papillomavirus that cause cancers of the penis, cervix, anus and the throat. It is estimated that more than 50% of Americans are infected with the HPV at any given time period and each year, close to 32,000 individuals develop cancer linked to the virus.

According to the CDC, more than 90% of these cancers could be prevented if the individuals were vaccinated. In the past, the CDC recommended three doses of the vaccine but latest guidelines now only require two doses for teenagers under the age of 15. It is expected that the new dosing would make it easier for young people to comply with the vaccination schedule. In the past, people would get the first dose, but less than 43% would return to the clinic for completion of the remaining two doses. It is hoped that with only two doses, there will be greater compliance. Early results from clinics report that the rate of teenagers coming in to complete the two-dose of the vaccine has started to increase. In addition, the gender gap that was obvious a decade ago has also narrowed down.

The HPV vaccine was initially only recommended for girls but in 2011, this recommendation changed to include boys as well. At the moment, vaccination rates remain high in girls but boys are catching on slowly but surely. Overall, vaccination rates remain lower in rural areas compared to the cities. This could be a reflection of parental or cultural views on vaccination or simply a lack of physicians in rural communities.