The very low vaccination rate for teenage girls against the human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection and a principal cause of cervical cancer — did not improve at all from 2011 to 2012, and health officials said a survey found that doctors were often failing to bring it up or recommend it when girls came in for other reasons.
Only 33 percent of teenage girls had finished the required three doses of the vaccine in 2012, officials said, putting the United States close to the bottom of developed countries in coverage.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on a call with reporters that coverage for girls “has not increased at all from one year to the next. Zero.” Coverage rates for new vaccines typically increase by about 10 percentage points a year, he said.
Experts began recommending in 2007 that all girls get vaccinated at age 11 or 12, though it is approved for children as young as 9. The same guidance was issued for boys in 2011. The virus causes about 19,000 cancers in women every year, and 8,000 in men, according to the CDC. Women most commonly get cervical cancer as a result of the virus, while men are most likely to get throat cancer.
“The doctor is the single most influential factor that determines whether kids get vaccinated,” Frieden said.