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25% of Teen Girls Got HPV Vaccine

CDC: "Very Good" Start; Goal Is Getting HPV Shots to 90% of Teen Girls
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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Oct. 9, 2008 - One in four U.S. teenage girls has been vaccinated against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), the CDC says.

The finding comes from data collected in 2007 in the CDC's second annual survey of teen vaccine coverage. It's the first look at how well the HPV vaccine was accepted by American parents just one year after the vaccine was recommended for girls ages 11 to 12.

In the survey, parents of 3,000 teens were asked about their teens' vaccination histories and gave the CDC permission to verify the information with the teens' doctors.

Just over 25% of girls aged 13-17 had at least started the three-shot HPV vaccination series. That's encouraging, says Lance Rodewald, MD, director of immunization services at the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

"For a newly recommended vaccine, 25% coverage is very good," Rodewald said at news conference. "Usually it takes seven or eight years to a new vaccine to reach 90% coverage, which is the target."

Because HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, the CDC says the ideal time for girls to get the vaccine is at ages 11 to 12 -- long before they become sexually active. However, the vaccine is approved for girls and women ages 9 to 26.

The three-shot HPV series is expensive. But Rodewald says the vast majority of health insurance companies cover teen vaccination. For those without such coverage, he says, the CDC's Vaccines for Children Program covers the cost.

"We hear from companies that coverage is high, with 90% covering HPV vaccination in the last year," he said. "For those without health insurance, the Vaccines for Children Program pays for vaccination up to a child's 19th birthday. This country makes a big effort to make cost not a factor for these vaccines."

Rodewald estimates that 2.5 million girls aged 13-17 have at least started HPV vaccination. But 15 million doses of the HPV vaccine were distributed last year.

"Many women have been vaccinated against HPV who were not included in the survey," Rodewald noted.

The survey also offered relatively good news on two other newly recommended teen vaccines: the meningococcal vaccine and the tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.

The Tdap booster shot was recommended by the CDC's vaccine advisory panel after several U.S. outbreaks of whooping cough (pertussis) in teens and young adults.

In 2007, 30.4% of teens had received the Tdap vaccine, up from 10.8% in 2006.

Meningococcal vaccination was up, too: from 11.7% in 2006 to 32.4% in 2007.

The CDC reports the teen vaccine survey results in the Oct. 10 issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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