On one side you have the CDC, who say that the vaccination rate against HPV is unacceptably low. New figures are out saying that only one-third of girls aged 13-17 had received the recommended three dose series.
“It’s frustrating to report almost the same HPV vaccination coverage levels among girls for another year,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in an official press statement. “Preteens need HPV vaccine today to be protected from HPV cancers tomorrow.”
If you put this vaccine up against the normal ones such as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, the rate is glaringly low. HPV clocks in at 57 percent of girls and 37 percent of boys that have had one or more of the doses recommended. That compares to the 86 percent of adolescents receiving the tetanus shot. Scientists are looking at the 80 percent threshold as the goal to prevent HPV-related cancers.
So, why the low numbers? For one, family doctors are not recommending the vaccine. Also, vaccine safety has been called into question via several studies. Once a safety concern pops up, you can expect parents to pull back, no matter the methodology.
Those that were vaccinated can be directly attributed to recommendations from a family doctor. Parents, who did have their daughter vaccinated, had a 74 percent recommendation rate from their doctor. Boys had a 72 percent rate.
Opinions over the efficacy have been split with the vaccine. Dr. Diane Harper compared the vaccine to vitamins. Her stance was basically it wasn’t 100% necessary. “HPV vaccinations are not necessary. They are an optional health benefit just like taking vitamins.” Further, she noted, “The CDC should be pushing the participation in cervical cancer screening so that the young 21 to 30 year olds participate at greater rates. The current rates of cervical cancer participation are unacceptably low.”
The CDC has countered with numbers showing 67 million doses given, and they monitor the safety of the vaccine. They maintain that no serious safety concerns have come up in their post-approval monitoring, and the CDC has pushed back hard saying they take vaccination programs seriously.
Even patients without the full course of the vaccination are offered some level of protection according to CDC statistics.
If the CDC had the numbers they wanted, the center maintains that 91 percent of adolescent girls would have some form of protection against cancers caused by a HPV infection. In the end, it is the seed of doubt that the CDC must overcome to get to their target 80% plus vaccination rate.