Overall human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination coverage among adolescent girls flattened out in 2012, and rates actually decreased for completion of the three-dose series, according to the CDC's July 26 Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report(www.cdc.gov).
The report was based on data from the 2007-2012 National Immunization Survey-Teen, as well as national postlicensure vaccine safety monitoring. Report authors found that despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines against HPV infection and ample opportunities for clinicians to deliver vaccine, 2012 demonstrated no observable increase in the number of vaccinations given after significant gains in years past.
"Although vaccination coverage with ≥1 dose of any HPV vaccine increased from 25.1 percent in 2007 to 53 percent in 2011, coverage in 2012 (53.8 percent) was similar to 2011," the authors wrote. "If HPV vaccine had been administered during health care visits when another vaccine was administered, vaccination coverage for ≥1 dose could have reached 92.6 percent."
According to an editorial note that accompanied the report, by increasing three-dose HPV vaccination coverage to 80 percent, an estimated additional 53,000 cases of cervical cancer could be prevented during the lifetimes of females ages 12 and older. For every year increases in coverage are delayed, another 4,400 women will go on to develop cervical cancer.
In a July 25 press briefing(www.cdc.gov), CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., said the U.S. medical establishment is "dropping the ball" by missing opportunities to give HPV vaccine and protect women from cervical cancer.
"These national data show no progress -- zero -- with HPV vaccine coverage in 2012," Frieden said. "We're used to seeing coverage increases of 10 percent per year when a new vaccine hits the market." The first of two HPV vaccines currently available received FDA approval in 2006.
Frieden said the more troubling fact is that only 33.4 percent of girls finished the three-dose HPV series in 2012, down from 34.8 percent in 2011. Survey data indicate teens are going to their doctor's office to get other vaccines, but they're not getting the second and third doses of HPV vaccine. If the vaccine had been given during these visits, he said, 93 percent of those teens would have completed their HPV series.
Data from the survey also showed that one of the top reasons girls didn't get the shots is that their physician didn't recommend it.
"Doctors need to recommend this vaccine just as they recommend others and ensure that (teen girls) are given every opportunity" to receive it, Frieden said. As for parental concerns about the vaccine promoting promiscuity, "Multiple studies have found that preteens and teens who receive this vaccine do not have sex any sooner than their peers who have not received the vaccine," he said.
"HPV vaccine does not open the door to sex. HPV vaccine closes the door to cancer."
Related ANN Coverage
News Brief: Study Shows HPV Vaccine Helping Lower Infection Rates in Teen Girls
CDC press release: HPV vaccine: Safe, effective, and grossly underutilized(www.cdc.gov)
July 27, 2013