East Hawaii News

Hawai’i HPV Vaccinations Low

September 4, 2015, 11:55 AM HST
* Updated September 4, 11:56 AM
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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunization rates are lagging, according to the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

The vaccinations are given to both boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12. A series of three shots are administered over a six-month period for full protection.

Dr. Rudy Paul, a University of Hawai’i Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, is among those who are concerned about the rates.

“The reason for giving the vaccine at that early age is that it needs to be provided before the children have a risk of getting the disease,” said Dr. Rudy.

In Hawai’i, research by the Centers for Disease Control shows that only 34 percent of females and 15 percent of males have been fully immunized.

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“We’re not talking about a cold. This is cancer. And it can be prevented,” said Dr. Rudy.

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Up to 80 percent of sexually active women in the United States will contract HPV, and each year, over 25,000 HPV related cancers occur.

“A recent study found that sexually active female college students had a baseline HPV infection rate of 26 percent and that the rate went to 60 percent when re-checked three years later,” said Dr. Rudy. “The HPV vaccine would have prevented transmission in most of them.”

Dr. Rudy says the reason behind low immunization rates is not clear. “The risks of the HPV vaccine are minuscule compared to the enormous benefits,” Dr. Rudy explained. “This is cancer and there is an effective vaccine that will prevent HPV infections.”

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To learn more about the HPV vaccine, visit the Hawai’i Department of Health website.

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