Published On: Thu, Jul 25th, 2013

CDC gives update on HPV vaccination: ‘We’re dropping the ball’

During a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) telebriefing today, health leaders gave an update on vaccination rates against human papillomavirus (HPV) and vaccine safety.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden

CDC Director Thomas Frieden

CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden said, “The types of HPV, that’s human papillomavirus, that commonly cause cervical cancer in the U.S., had dropped by about half in girls aged 14 to 19 in the seven years since we recommended routinely vaccinating against HPV.  I noted at that time that the results were striking, and would serve — should serve as a wake-up call to increase vaccination rates, because we really can protect the next generation of adolescents against cancers caused by HPV.”

However, Frieden continues,  “Unfortunately, today we have disappointing news.  An article in today’s MMWR shows that HPV vaccination coverage for girls getting the anti-cancer vaccine has not increased at all from one year to the next.  Zero.  We’re dropping the ball.  We’re missing opportunities to give HPV vaccines, and that needs to change to protect girls from cervical cancer.”

The data from the National Immunization Survey on teen vaccinations show no progress with HPV vaccine coverage in 2012.

“We’re used to seeing coverage increases of 10 percent per year when a new vaccine hits the market.  Last year we were disappointed at the increase in HPV vaccine was only 4 percentage points.  This year, it’s zero percentage points.  The HPV vaccine coverage hasn’t kept pace with other vaccines recommended for preteens and teens”, Frieden said.

“One dose does not provide all of the protection that the HPV vaccine series has to offer so we want all girls to get their second and third doses, he continues.  By 2011, 34.8 percent of teen girls finished their three-dose series.  2012 data is not different.  It’s 33.4 percent.  Actually, slightly fewer teen girls are given all doses from the previous years.  This is a huge disappointment, but I’m confident that we will turn it around.”

“We assumed that one of the reasons we had such low rates was that adolescents don’t see the doctor regularly so it’s hard to get a three-dose series in.  But actually, we found that — that the data showed that if HPV vaccine were given every single time a young person went to the doctor to get another vaccine, the completion of those series would be at 93 percent.

“That’s important, because if we get three-dose series to 80 percent, an estimated 53,000 cases of cervical cancer could be prevented over the lifetimes of girls aged 12 and younger.”

Friedan said, “we need to step up our efforts by talking to parents about the importance of this vaccine.  Doctors need to recommend this vaccine just as they recommend others, and ensure that they’re given every opportunity.”

Dr. Thomas McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, also chimed in addressing pediatricians on this issue saying, “Since HPV vaccine works best when given before engaging any type of sexual activity, HPV vaccine should be given as part of the adolescent immunization platform at 11 to 12 years of age.  Parents may not understand that this vaccine needs to be given prior to the onset of sexual activity.”

“Parents may know very little about HPV vaccine and the diseases it can lead to.  They need to know that — how common HPV is, and what cancers can be prevented.  Recommending HPV vaccine as you would the other vaccines for adolescents is important, as part of a strong recommendation.

“Use every opportunity to vaccinate your adolescent patients at both illness and well child visits.  Use the alert capability in your electronic medical record system so every time a patient is seen, their vaccination status is reviewed.  Ask about vaccination status when they come in for sick visits and sports physicals, as well.  Utilize patient reminder and call systems, such as automated postcards, phone calls and text messages to remind patients about their need for the HPV vaccine.”

McInerny closed with, “Every visit to a health care provider is an opportunity to check vaccination status.  Strongly recommend HPV vaccines, starting with patients who are 11 years old.  Recommend HPV vaccine the same way you recommend other adolescent vaccines.  And tell parents their child needs these vaccines to prevent a number of illnesses, and then list the vaccine preventable illnesses.”


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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63


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