A report published last week by one of the country’s largest health insurers reveals the disappointing uptake of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in American tweens and teens:

The top three reasons parents cited for not giving their child the HPV vaccine:

– Concern for adverse side effects (60 percent)

– View that their child is not at risk, so the vaccine is unnecessary (24 percent)

– Did not have enough information about the vaccine (12 percent)


We’ve addressed each of these concerns before on The PediaBlog, and you can read all our posts on the reasons why children should be protected from this very real health threat before they become sexually active here. Allison Aubrey gives us a review:

Each year, about 31,000 men and women in the U.S. are diagnosed with a cancer caused by an infection from the human papillomavirus, or HPV. It’s the most common sexually transmitted virus and infection in the U.S.

In women, HPV infection can lead to cervical cancer, which leads to about 4,000 deaths per year. In men, it can cause penile cancer. HPV also causes some cases of oral cancer, cancer of the anus and genital warts.

The CDC says HPV vaccination can prevent many of these cancers, and urges pediatricians to recommend HPV vaccination for all their patients, beginning at age 11.

But a new analysis from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association finds only 29 percent of the teens its members insure receive a first dose of the HPV vaccine by their 13th birthday. And the CDC finds, nationally, only 43 percent of teens are up-to-date on all the recommended doses of the vaccine.


HPV was originally invented, produced, and marketed to prevent cervical cancer in females. While women can also get HPV-associated cancers in other body sites, oral cancer from this common viral infection is much more common in adult men who are old enough to have missed the opportunity to get immunized by a pediatrician:

The CDC has documented an increase in the cases of HPV-related cancers in men in recent years, with a significant increase in oropharyngeal cancer.

“The fastest growing segment of the oral and oropharyngeal cancer population are otherwise healthy, nonsmokers in the 25-50 age range,” according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

For young men and women, it may not be too late to get the vaccine.

The CDC says those who missed being vaccinated as teenagers, can still benefit from getting the HPV vaccine through their early and mid-20s.


Parents shouldn’t forget that HPV is also associated with penile cancer, which to be treated completely requires chemotherapy, radiation, and an excisional procedure. A couple of shots for a young preteen and teenager seems like a reasonable trade off versus contemplating what and how much needs to be cut off.

Get it? Got it? Good.


*** On January 22, 2018, Pediatric Alliance and some of our pediatric colleagues from around the United States began participating in an 8-week AAP-sponsored immunization advocacy campaign on social media. Please follow all our social media posts during this project on Facebook and Twitter.


(Image: vaccinateyourfamily.org)