By Michael Ollove
The share of teenage boys getting the vaccine to prevent the cancer-causing human papillomavirus climbed significantly last year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccination rate among girls rose as well, but not as steeply.
The CDC report says that 28.1 percent of boys between ages 13 and 17 completed the three-dose HPV vaccination cycle in 2015, compared to 21.6 percent the previous year. For girls, the percentage rose from 39.7 percent to 41.9 percent.
Nine years ago, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of doctors and public health experts that makes immunization recommendations to the federal government, said all teenage girls should get the HPV vaccination to prevent HPV-related cancers, pertussis and meningococcal disease.
In 2011, the committee recommended boys undergo the vaccination cycle as well.
But the vaccination rates remained stubbornly low, primarily, health officials said, because many doctors have not made HPV inoculation a priority for their patients.
Most state health departments have initiated outreach campaigns to educate pediatricians and primary care doctors with young patients about the benefits of the HPV vaccination.
Rhode Island had the highest HPV vaccination rates for girls (68 percent) and boys (58.1 percent) last year. Mississippi had the lowest rate among girls (24.4 percent) and Tennessee the lowest among boys (16 percent).