Vaccination rates for Minnesota teens increaseThe share of Minnesota teenagers who have received three key vaccines grew significantly last year, but public health experts said they are still troubled by the relatively slow adoption of a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
By: Christopher Snowbeck, St. Paul Pioneer Press / MCT
The share of Minnesota teenagers who have received three key vaccines grew significantly last year, but public health experts said they are still troubled by the relatively slow adoption of a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.
The numbers were released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which highlighted the fact that just 49 percent of teens across the country in 2010 had received one dose of the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Those infections can lead to cervical cancer.
Coverage rates were higher for a vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and for a vaccine for meningitis.
It was a similar story in Minnesota, where just less than 38 percent of adolescent girls had completed the three-dose series of HPV vaccine, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Seventy percent of teens in the state had received the booster for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and 57 percent had received the meningitis vaccine.
The coverage rate for all three improved in Minnesota from 2009 to 2010, said Kristen Ehresmann, an infectious-disease expert with the Minnesota Department of Health.
The cervical cancer vaccine has been controversial because the virus is spread through sexual contact. Critics fear that the vaccine will encourage promiscuity in teens and that making it mandatory would intrude on parental rights.
Public health officials, however, say the main goal with the HPV
vaccine is to prevent cervical cancer in women because it provides almost 100 percent protection against the two forms of the virus that cause most cases. It also protects against related cancers and genital warts, which means there's also a benefit for boys, according to the Health Department.
"The virus is transmitted from person to person through sexual contact, but we know that it's important that teens receive the vaccine before they become sexually active as a way to maximize the protection and minimize the risk," Ehresmann said in a news release.
Distributed by MCT Information Services