Cervical cancer prevention news: Majority of teens in New Mexico don't receive HPV shots

Nancy Brajtbord, RN, (L) administers a shot of gardasil, a Human Papillomavirus vaccine, to a 14-year old patient (who does not wish to be named) in Dallas, Texas on March 6, 2007.Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

A new study by researchers from the University of New Mexico finds that most teens from New Mexico are not getting shots for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) protection, Albuquerque news outlets report.

The study appearing in The Annals of Family Medicine found that only half of the girls in New Mexico and only one out of five boys receive the vaccine against the sexually transmitted virus responsible for 80 percent of cervical cancers in the United States.

The study also found that New Mexico clinics are short of systems that provide alerts to parents and their teenaged kids to receive the shots.

Part of the reason why a great number of teens in the area don't receive the needed vaccine is that not many are aware it exists.

"A lot of people are not aware of this vaccine and that may be a factor here. Secondly it is expensive and if you don't have insurance then that's a problem," medical expert Dr. Barry Ramo said, according to a report from KOAT.

The study urges physicians to include HPV vaccine as a bundle for school-required vaccines to help remind parents when their children need to get the shots.

In addition, it also recommended that New Mexico clinics should do something to improve their clinic tracking system to ensure that a child is compliant with the shots and to notify parents about due vaccinations.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that children as young as 11 or 12 years old should receive an HPV vaccine to protect them from viral exposure.

However, HPV vaccine is not well received by some parents as they associate it with sex and they believe children are too young to be given the shots. There is also the concern that with HPV vaccine, youngsters will be more likely to engage in premarital sex.

However, according to a report from KSL.com, doctors are pushing for the shots and they say that getting the vaccine will not encourage premarital sex, but rather it will give a great deal of protection against cancer.

HPV vaccine is given three times within the course of six months and lifetime protection is offered.