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One in four girls have HPV vaccine

10th October 2008

One quarter of teenage girls in the United States have now been given a controversial vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause cervical cancer.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the results of its second annual survey of teen vaccine coverage using data from 2007 in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Lance Rodewald, director of immunisation services at the CDC's National Center for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases, said it was encouraging that just over 25% of girls aged 13-17 had at least started the three-shot HPV vaccination series.

Parents of 3,000 teens gave information about their child's vaccination record, and permission for the information to be verified with doctors.

Rodewald said the 25% coverage rate was good for a newly recommended vaccine.

The HPV vaccine has stirred controversy because it protects against a sexually transmitted virus, but is best administered before girls become sexually active, at around age 11 or 12.

However, it is approved in the US for any female from age 9 to 26.

The majority of health insurance companies cover teen vaccination for the jab, which is expensive, and those without coverage could be vaccinated under CDC's Vaccines for Children program for nothing.

About 90% of insurance companies have reported covering HPV vaccination in the past year, but children on low incomes would not be left out, Rodewald said.

An estimated 2.5 million girls aged 13-17 have at least started HPV vaccination, based on the survey data. But 15 million doses of the HPV vaccine were distributed last year.

Not all those who are getting vaccinated were included in the survey, which also showed a sharp rise in vaccination coverage for two other newly recommended teen vaccines: meningococcus and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (whooping cough), known as Tdap.

Teens receiving the Tdap vaccine rose in 2007 to 30.4% compared with 10.8% the previous year. And Meningococcal vaccination coverage rose from 11.7% in 2006 to 32.4% in 2007.

The Tdap shot was recommended after several outbreaks of whooping cough in young people.

 

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