Health | Local | Vital Signs

Health Officials: Too Few Girls Receiving Anti-Cancer Vaccine

OPB | July 26, 2013 11:03 a.m. | Updated: Jan. 3, 2014 2:20 p.m. | Portland

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Federal health officials say a vaccine designed to stop cervical and other types of cancer is being grossly underutilized.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Top officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the HPV vaccine is safe and effective. But the vaccination rate for girls between 13 and 17 hasn’t increased between 2011 and 2012. 

Oregon Health Authority epidimologist Sean Schaffer said the state doesn’t have figures for 2012 yet. But in 2011 approximately two thirds of girls from Oregon had been given the vaccine. 

“So perhaps slightly higher than the rest of the country, but still rates that are not as high as we’d like to see,” Schaffer said.

Among unvaccinated girls, 84 percent had had a health care visit where they received another vaccine, such as meningitis or pertussis, but not HPV.

Some parents question why kids as young as 11 would be vaccinated for a sexually transmitted disease. The CDC says the vaccine needs to be given well in advance of any sexual activity to be effective.

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