One in Four Teenage Girls Receives HPV Vaccine

Armen Hareyan's picture
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One in four teenage girls has begun the process of vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) with the three-shot series of Gardasil, according to the 2007 National Immunization Survey-Teen. In March 2007 the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that all girls age 11 or 12 be routinely vaccinated with three doses of quadrivalent HPV vaccine. The new survey was the first official government report on compliance.

The vaccination series can be started as young as age 9. The ACIP also advises females aged 13 to 26 to obtain "catch-up" vaccinations, even though Gardasil is preventive, not therapeutic, and they may have already been exposed to HPV. The quadrivalent vaccine protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18, which account for up to 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.

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The 25.1 percent vaccination rate drawn from the sample group suggests that 2.5 million of the 10 million teenage girls in the United States were vaccinated. However, the survey was completed by telephone interview in 5,474 households where a teen boy or girl aged 13 to 17 lived, and results were confirmed from medical records for only 2,947 of those teens.

Furthermore, the vaccination schedule calls for three shots over the course of 6 months; thus those surveyed as having received one dose of the vaccine may not complete the full, three-shot series.

Finally, some structural aspects of the survey methodology and health care provider histories could make it difficult to generalize these results either to the entire population or to specific groups, such as Latina teens.

The results were published October 10 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, as part of a report on recommended vaccinations for adolescents. It also included compliance reports for several other ACIP-recommended vaccines indicated for adolescents.

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