A recent study found that fewer teenage girls and young women are getting vaccinated for the human papillomavirus (HPV). Persistent infection of HPV can lead to cervical cancer. In addition, the research found that most who do opt for vaccination fail to complete all three parts of the regimen.
J. Kathleen Tracy and her team reviewed 9,658 medical records from girls and women aged 9-26, who were seen at the University of Maryland Medical Center between August 2006 and August 2010. The figures showed that only 27.3% of these patients were vaccinated. In addition, 39.1% of the vaccination group completed only one dose, 30.1% completed two and only 30.7% finished the full course.
The most common defaulters were women aged 18-26, and African-American women. Ms. Tracy explains that the 18-26 age group is at a transition stage in life, when such things as leaving home and school and moving to university is prioritised, leading to missed vaccines.
Ms. Tracy said: "Women who are eligible for this vaccine and could potentially benefit aren't getting it at rates to maximally prevent cervical cancer".
"This highlights the need for public health promotions and practice patterns to encourage vaccine uptake or at least discussion of the pros and cons".
There are currently two vaccines available in the US. Gardasil, approved for girls aged 9 and older, protects against four types of HPV. Cervarix covers the two strains of HPV that are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.