HealthDay News — Only about half of girls in the United States begin receiving the human papillomavirus vaccine at the recommended age, results of a study published in Vaccine indicate.
“Rates of HPV infection increase significantly every year for young people agedbetween 14 and 24 years, so vaccination at a young age is very important,” Mahbubur Rahman, MBBS, PhD, MPH, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said in a university news release.
To determine the trend of provider-verified human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine initiation (≥ one dose) and completion (≥ three doses) among adolescent girls, the investigators analyzed data from the National Immunization Survey of Teens 2008 to 2012 data.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that girls should begin getting the three-dose HPV vaccine when they are aged 11 to 12 years. The vaccine is most effective before girls become sexually active, according to the CDC. The agency also recommends the vaccine for boys beginning when they are aged 11 or 12. The researchers, however, only examined vaccination rates among girls.
In 2008, only 14% of girls in the United States started the HPV vaccine series at the recommended age. By 2012, nearly 56% of girls were vaccinated at the appropriate time. The trends did not differ by race or ethnicity.
Nearly half of adolescent girls receive the HPV vaccine after the age of 12 — and researchers said it’s not certain how effective the vaccine is after age 12 years.
“It’s important that parents and health care providers are aware of the importance of early HPV vaccination to ensure that girls receive this vaccination at the CDC’s recommended age,” Rahman added.