New federal data shows that despite public health efforts, the number of teen boys and girls receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine only increased slightly in 2014.
The new numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Thursday show that four out of 10 adolescent girls and six out of 10 adolescent boys have not started the HPV vaccination series. Without vaccination, young people are at a greater risk of developing HPV-related cancers down the line.
Overall, 60% of girls in the age group and 42% of boys have received one or more doses of the vaccine which the CDC reports is 3% higher for girls and 8% higher for boys compared to data from 2013.
Currently it is recommended by the CDC that girls and boys ages 11 to 12 get the HPV vaccine. While the new numbers are an improvement from prior years, medical experts would like to see greater HPV vaccine use, especially since the vaccine prevents cancer.
HPV is not an uncommon infection. Other data from the CDC shows sexually active men and women will get at least one type of the virus at some point during their lives. Each year around 27,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with HPV-caused cancer.
“We are missing crucial opportunities to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in a statement.
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