(Salt Lake City, Utah) – HPV vaccination rates among teens aged 13-17 are improving in Utah, especially among males. According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, only 20% of Utah males aged 13-17 completed the recommended HPV vaccine series. However, in 2017, that number increased by 12%. In addition, the overall HPV vaccination rates in Utah for both males and females increased by 7% from 2016.
“The increase in vaccination rates is a good indicator that more parents are having conversations with their child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine. There is a lot of information out there about vaccines, some of which is not accurate. When parents are making decisions about a vaccine that could prevent their child from getting cancer, it is important they are getting credible medical information from a trusted healthcare professional,” said Rich Lakin, Immunizations Program manager at the Utah Department of Health (UDOH).
The HPV vaccination is a series of two shots and is recommended for preteens, both males and females, at age 11 or 12, so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. The HPV vaccine is most effective during the preteen years.
Since 2014, the UDOH has implemented a parent education campaign aimed at increasing the HPV vaccination rates, which may have contributed to the increases seen in the national reports. The campaign encourages parents to talk to their child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine and will begin running again on social media in mid-September 2018.
The HPV virus can cause cancer in both males and females and is very common; so common in fact, that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. The HPV vaccine helps to prevent six types of cancers caused by the HPV virus; preventing more than 29,000 HPV-related cancers per year in the U.S. in both males and females. Of particular concern is oropharyngeal cancer, which is now the most common HPV associated cancer in the U.S. and is more common in males than females. There is no screening available for oral cancers, which makes the HPV vaccination the best form of protection against oral cancer.
For more information about HPV, visit www.cancerutah.org/hpv.
The CDC reports may be accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6733a1.htm and https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/nis/about.html.