According to the latest National Immunization Survey, about 60% of teenage girls and 78% of teenage boys haven’t received all three of the recommended doses of the human papillomavirus vaccine.
The HPV vaccine helps prevent reproductive cancers and genital warts caused by the virus. The HPV vaccine is administered through three shots over a six month period.
Health officials recommend that adolescents receive the shots between the ages of 11 and 12 in order to boost the chances for immunity prior to any sexual activity. Unfortunately the survey found that 40% of girls and 60% of boys ages 13 to 17 never even received the first dose of the vaccine.
HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease. There are about 40 different strains of HPV and most people will contract one of the strains at some point in their lives.
In the United States, 79 million people have HPV and an additional 14 million people are infected annually.
Most people are not even aware that they have the virus, and it often goes away on its own.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. One in every 100 will develop genital warts and 23,000 people are diagnosed with HPV-caused cancers annually.
However, the HPV vaccine prevents almost all pre-cancers and warts caused by the virus in both women and men.
Regardless of the known benefits of the HPV vaccine, many parents continue to elect to not have their children vaccinated. The most common reasons is the unwarranted fear about vaccine safety and the disbelief that their kids are or would be sexually active. The HPV vaccine has become a divisive issue.
The National Cancer Institute has called for an urgency of action in closing vaccination gaps. The United States is missing crucial opportunities to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV.