VT HPV Immunization Rates Increasing

By Rachel Aragon | raragon@nexstar.tv

Published 08/31 2016 10:50PM

Updated 08/31 2016 11:51PM

Immunization rates for the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV vaccine, is going up in Vermont, but some think it's not high enough.
The vaccine was first recommended to young girls in 2006 and for boys in 2011. 
Christine Finely, the Immunization Program Manager for the Vermont Health Department, says  the vaccine is a no brainer.
"I've reviewed it, the CDC's reviewed it, many of the researchers have and I feel confident saying its a safe vaccine."  
The Centers for Disease Control say HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. The vaccine is recommended for girls and boys between ages 11 and 12.
The state says its HPV vaccine rates are on the rise. 69 percent of girls and 66 percent of boys have received at least one HPV shot, a 16 percent increase for boys from last year.
"We're pleased with the progress made with the boys accepting the vaccine and making sure to be vaccinated because they started so much later," says Finley. 
But the goal is for the HPV vaccine is to reach 80 percent or higher, much like where other children's vaccines rates are in the state.
"If we had say a breast cancer vaccine there's no doubt in my mind that we would have to even promote this," says Justin Pentenrieder of the American Cancer Society of Vermont. "Everybody would get vaccinated."
The American Cancer Society of Vermont says one challenge parents face with the vaccine is the conversation they'll have with their kids.
The American Cancer Society says the focus should not be on how the infection is transmitted, but rather on the benefits of the vaccine. 
"HPV immunization is cancer prevention and that's the language we want the providers to use that's the most effective language," says Pentenrieder.
Another challenge to the vaccine is that it requires a series of three shots, not one.
But Finley says having her daughters receive the vaccination there are ways to ease the process.
"They went in for some none acute illness," says Finley. "I think it was a sprained ankle, and I remember the nurse practitioner saying oh you're due for your HPV, that's how they made sure to get it in."  
In the last four years, since the HPV vaccine was recommended for boys, immunization rates for the series of the vaccine are up 40 percent.

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