HPV vaccine completion rates remain alarmingly low

Completion rates for the HPV vaccine series across both genders have stayed staggeringly low for the almost seven years since its introduction, which experts attribute to a need for better patient education and increased public vaccine financing programs.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, in three studies published in the journals Cancer, Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, and Vaccine, reported the trend, which they called "startling," News-Medical.net reports.

"This is the first generation with the opportunity to be vaccinated against the devastating cancers associated with HPV, but the majority are missing the opportunity," lead author Dr. Abbey Berenson, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director at UTMB's Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women's Health, said, according to News-Medical.net. "We cannot overstate the public health importance of vaccinating girls and boys. The HPV vaccine is one of the few proven ways to quickly and dramatically decrease our cancer burden."

The study utilized date from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, which is an annual cross-sectional survey of more than 27,000 adults in the U.S.

The researchers found that more than 75 percent of approximately 2,000 women between 18-26 did not receive the HPV vaccine, while an additional 10 percent were incompletely vaccinated and two-thirds said that they did not want the vaccine. The researchers said that inadequate knowledge, lack of physician recommendation or negative beliefs about vaccines played a large part in declining to be vaccinated, News-Medical.net reports.

Only two percent of approximately 3,000 males between the ages of nine and 17 initiated the vaccine, the researchers found, while only 0.5 percent completed the three-dose regimen.