Not Even Half of American Teens Finish Their HPV Vaccine Series

Photo via Getty Images.

Today, in depressing statistics: A mere 43 percent of American
teens are getting their full three doses of the HPV vaccine.

The Wall Street Journal picks up the latest numbers
from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. “We’re excited
that people are coming in and starting the series. But now we
need to work on getting them back in so they’re getting all the
doses to complete the series,” said Shannon Stokley, who’s an
associate director for science for the immunization services
division at CDC, who worked on the report. It’s not that girls
are getting it while boys are skipping en masse, either—the
Journal notes that the gap has dropped to nine
percentage points.

The low rates are particularly striking when you compare the
numbers for other vaccines teens get around the same time:

The Tdap vaccine—which protects against tetanus, diphtheria
and pertussis, or whooping cough—is also recommended at a
similar age, and 88% of teens got that in 2016, according to
the report. Also, 82% of teens got the vaccine that protects
against meningitis.

Doctors should administer the HPV vaccine at the same time as
the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines, Dr. Meissner says, but
that’s clearly not happening. “There are lots of missed
opportunities,” he says.

The good news is that the number of teens who start the series
climbed to 60 percent, so at least the stats were heading in
the right direction.

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