CDC: “We’re Dropping The Ball” On HPV Vaccinations
July 27, 2013

CDC: “We’re Dropping The Ball” On HPV Vaccinations

redOrbit staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The percentage of adolescent girls who were vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) in 2012 was unchanged from the previous year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced.

According to HealthDay News reporter Dennis Thompson, only 53 percent of girls received at least one dose of the vaccine in both 2011 and 2012. Furthermore, only one-third of all girls received all three doses of the vaccine last year, which actually marks a decline in the rate from one year to the next, Thompson said.

HPV has been called the primary cause of cervical cancer, and according to Monte Morin of the Los Angeles Times, it is also the most common cause of sexually transmitted infections.

In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that over half of all sexually active individuals will become infected with one of the over 40 different types of HPV known to spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex.

"The viruses are responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer, along with most cases of anal cancer," the NCI reports. "The viruses also cause more than half of the cancers in the middle part of the throat and about half of vaginal, vulvar and penile cancers," Morin added. "Since 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization practices has recommended routine vaccination of adolescent girls ages 11 or 12."

Thompson calls the news "particularly discouraging" in light of recent CDC reports showing the vaccine is more effective than originally believed, causing a larger-than-expected drop in human papillomavirus prevalence.

The CDC reports approximately 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and an additional 14 million become newly infected each year. Federal health officials estimate an additional 4,400 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, resulting in 1,400 deaths from the ailment each year that the coverage rate remains at just 33 percent instead of at the 80 percent target goal, the HealthDay News reporter added.

"The issue doesn't lie with availability of the vaccine," the CDC report noted. "Parents and doctors simply are missing opportunities to have girls vaccinated against HPV," Thompson explained. "About 84 percent of 11-year-old girls have had a doctor's visit where they received another vaccination but not the HPV vaccine...If the HPV vaccine had been administered at the same time, today's coverage rate could have exceeded 92 percent, officials noted."

Twenty-five percent of all parents reportedly told the CDC they had no intention of having their daughters vaccinated against HPV. Of those, 19 percent said they felt the vaccine was unnecessary, 14 percent said their doctor had not recommended the vaccine to them, 13 percent cited safety concerns, 13 percent said they were unaware of either the vaccine or the disease, and 10 percent said the vaccine was not needed because their daughter was not sexually active.

"We're dropping the ball. We're missing opportunities to give HPV vaccination, and that needs to change to protect girls against cervical cancer," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters. "The girls are in the doctor's office, they're getting another vaccination, but they aren't getting the second or third dose of HPV vaccine. Doctors need to recommend this vaccine just as they do others, and ensure that it's given at every opportunity."

Earlier this month, new research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology linked human papillomavirus to one-third of all cases of throat cancer. That study looked at blood tests from individuals participating in a lifestyle and cancer study, and the researchers looked for the presence of antibodies to E6, one of HPV's key proteins.

The authors explained E6 knocked out part of the cells' protection system, which should prevent cancer from developing. Having the antibodies means HPV had already overcome that defense, they added. Their study revealed 84 percent of those with the antibodies were still alive five years following their initial cancer diagnosis, while just 58 percent of those without the antibodies lived that long.