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HPV vaccination rates are too low says health officials

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EUREKA- If your teenager is sexually active and did not get the HPV vaccination, they are at risk. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination rates for the Human Papillomavirus, commonly referred to as HPV, continue to lag among teens and pre-teens. The CDC reports that last year only 57 percent of girls and 37 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 were vaccinated against the disease. Health officials say those percentages are too low.

“To give you contrast, let's talk about Pertussis which has been going on locally across the state and across the country,” said Eric Gordan, a public health nurse with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services.  “A lot of education has been put into that and providers talking to their patients and getting vaccinated so they've achieved vaccine rates of about 75 percent and that's where we'd like to be, in the 75 to 80 percent range, and here we find ourselves in the 35 percent range.”

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both sexes. Boys and girls ages 11 and 12 are encouraged to get the three-dosage vaccination to prevent contracting the disease. However, all teenagers are also recommended to get the vaccine.

“Most importantly is people be aware that there is a vaccine out there that's recommended for both boys and girls from the age of 11 through 26 and the key point is we want to make sure that these folks get the vaccine before they become sexually active. So they should talk to their primary care providers office to see if they do carry the vaccine and when they can schedule an appointment to get that,” Gordan said.