A new report from the CDC says that less than half of American children are vaccinated against human papilloma virus (HPV), a form of cancer. Increasing HPV vaccinations to even an imperfect standard would decrease cases of head, neck, and pelvic cancer in both men and women. The CDC has said that improving vaccination rates even to Rwanda’s level would prevent 50,000 girls from getting cervical cancer. HPV vaccination rates have increased in the past year by about 5 percent, but improvement rates have been much slower than the CDC’s goal rate.
While the financial burden of vaccination was one reason for slow growth in recent years, the HPV vaccine has been added, alongside vaccines for meningitis and Tdap, to the list of vaccines offered for free to children without insurance.
Why are so few American children and teens vaccinated against HPV? How can the vaccine be made more accessible?
Dr. Beth Y. Karlan, MD, Director of the Women's Cancer Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute