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Young Girl Getting a Vaccine

HPV vaccine: Why aren’t more adolescents getting it?

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Marcella Childs
Published Date: Monday, January 06, 2020

By Dr. Marcella Childs, Town Center Pediatrics

For a vaccine with an excellent safety record, and a proven record of preventing several kinds of cancer, the HPV vaccine is not getting the respect it deserves.

The most recent statistics show that 51 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds were fully vaccinated in 2018. That’s an improvement from 2017 rates of 48 percent but lower than other vaccines, such as those that protect against measles, chicken pox, and hepatitis B.

A study released in the September issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reveals there is still uncertainty and confusion about the HPV vaccine among the general public, and parents are more likely to refuse it than other vaccines.

Girls continue to be vaccinated at a higher rate than boys, at 53.7 percent, compared with 48.7 percent for boys. In girls, the vaccine protects against nearly all cervical cancers and some cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, and throat. In boys, it protects against penile, throat, and anal cancer. The vaccine protects against genital warts as well.

Here’s what you need to know about the HPV vaccine:

  • HPV vaccine is recommended for both girls and boys.
  • Recommended age is 11 to 12, but it can be given at age 9 and through the age of 26.
  • Adolescents 9 through 14 should get the vaccine as a two-dose series with the doses separated by 6 to 12 months.
  • Those who start the HPV vaccination at 15 years of age and older should get it as a three-dose series with the second dose given one to two months after the first dose, and the third dose given six months after the first dose.
  • The earlier someone is vaccinated, the better the immune system responds.
  • Anyone who has a severe reaction to a dose of HPV should not get another dose.


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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.