Getting vaccinated for the HPV virus has become more important in today’s world than ever before. But experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are saying that despite their efforts, still enough children are not getting vaccinated. Are physicians doing their part in ensuring that youngsters get vaccinated?
Researchers are particularly emphasizing the importance of getting vaccinated for the HPV virus, because it leads to more serious diseases such as cervical and other types of cancers.
Federal health officials announced this week that more youngsters are getting vaccinated than ever before but still the numbers are not high enough. “In 2013, 37.6 percent of girls ages 13-17 got the recommended three doses of the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. That was up from 33.4 percent in 2012 but far short of the CDC's goal of an 80 percent vaccination rate, data showed. The percentage of boys receiving all three doses of the vaccine more than doubled, increasing to 13.9 percent in 2013 from 6.8 percent in 2012,” according to data from the CDC.
The three dose series of HPV shots for youngsters was first introduced in 2006.
“The vaccine protects against human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted bug that can cause cervical cancer, genital warts and other illnesses. The government recommends the vaccine for girls ages 11 and 12 because it works best if given before they become sexually active.”
How was the new report conducted?
The CDC surveyed around 18,000 parents of youngsters and teens. They then checked the medical records of the subjects. However numerous people declined to be included in the survey and it is possible that those who agreed to participate were more likely to support HPV vaccinations. This invites the possibility that this could make the actual HPV rates even lower than the reports says they are.
The CDC has issued strict guidelines for doctors in having them vocalize the HPV vaccine’s benefits to ensure that all patients get their HPV vaccines. This guideline was particularly set for boys and girls around eleven and twelve years old but also teens in general.
Despite the regulations set by the CDC numerous doctors failed to ensure that their patients received the vaccine. Reuters reports,
“The 2013 study found that doctors had not recommended it to one third of girls and more than half of boys. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, with 79 million U.S. residents currently infected and 14 million new cases every year, according to the health agency. The virus can cause cervical, vaginal, penile and anal cancer. Each year, about 4,000 women in the United States die of cervical cancer, the CDC said.”
Many parents involved in the study said that they were unaware of the vaccination and of the importance of their children receiving it. They said they rely on their doctors for this information and they failed to provide it.
Fox news also reported on the importance of youngsters receiving the vaccine. The number of girls between the ages of 13 to 17 receiving the vaccine has increased from 33% to 38% but this is not enough of a jump considering the fact that this virus can lead to certain cancers.
Why have not some people been more adamant about taking their youngsters to get vaccinated?
Fox explains, “Some have worried that taking a child for the vaccination implied green-lighting sexual activity. But health officials have tried to push doctors and parents to see it as just another disease-prevention measure for pre-adolescents, like the recommended shots against meningitis and whooping cough. It takes time for new vaccines to become widely used, but the HPV vaccine has lagged behind other shots.”
Dr. Schuchat, a director at the CDC, told Reuters, “It’s frustrating to report almost the same HPV vaccination coverage levels among girls for another year. Pre-teens need HPV vaccine today to be protected from HPV cancers tomorrow.”
The CDC stresses the fact that the vaccine is completely safe and parents should not hesitate to have it administered once informed about it. Over sixty million doses have been administered since it was first introduced a couple of years ago.
Has there been more success in getting girls vaccinated or boys? “Nationally, vaccination rate increases were larger for boys. About 35 percent got at least one dose last year, up from 21 percent in 2012. The three-dose number doubled to 14 percent, from 7 percent. The government only began recommending the vaccine for boys in 2011, and the increases mirror those seen in girls five years earlier. It's not clear if the trend will flatten out after the early rush - like it did for girls,” according to Fox.
Technically, the HPV vaccine is the only vaccine available to fight against cancer available today. Experts are surprised that more people are not taking advantage of this innovation.
Time magazine also reported on the CDC’s review giving particular importance to these numbers, “But the data also showed that among parents who did not vaccinate their girls, nearly half were never told by their doctor that they should consider it. The effect was even greater among boys, where only 26% of parents who did vaccinate their son received any advice from their doctor about it.”
And youngsters benefit from this the most, yet doctors and some parents are not being more proactive about ensuring that it is administered. Experts at the CDC are quite frustrated with this issue but hope that parents and physicians will take it more seriously in the coming year with more publicity being made about the vaccine. The CDC is also going to re-stress the guidelines they have issued for physicians, particularly pediatricians, in enforcing these regulations for the prevention of cervical and other cancers.