Not Even Half of American Teens Finish Their HPV Vaccine Series

Photo via Getty Images.
Photo via Getty Images.

Today, in depressing statistics: A mere 43 percent of American teens are getting their full three doses of the HPV vaccine.


The Wall Street Journal picks up the latest numbers from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. “We’re excited that people are coming in and starting the series. But now we need to work on getting them back in so they’re getting all the doses to complete the series,” said Shannon Stokley, who’s an associate director for science for the immunization services division at CDC, who worked on the report. It’s not that girls are getting it while boys are skipping en masse, either—the Journal notes that the gap has dropped to nine percentage points.

The low rates are particularly striking when you compare the numbers for other vaccines teens get around the same time:

The Tdap vaccine—which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough—is also recommended at a similar age, and 88% of teens got that in 2016, according to the report. Also, 82% of teens got the vaccine that protects against meningitis.

Doctors should administer the HPV vaccine at the same time as the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines, Dr. Meissner says, but that’s clearly not happening. “There are lots of missed opportunities,” he says.

The good news is that the number of teens who start the series climbed to 60 percent, so at least the stats were heading in the right direction.

Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel



I’m 32, and I got the first shot when I was 25. Unfortunately, at the time, it wasn’t covered by insurance (which no one told me) and the doctor’s office charged me the full $2500 for it. I never got the second two, because I couldn’t afford that out of pocket as a student.

Fast-forward to six months ago: I went to the OB/GYN for my routine pap, and it turned out that I had one of the common, non-cancer-causing strains of HPV (which was funny because I hadn’t had sex in four years). I had to get a colposcopy, and now I need to get tests every year for the next five years.

You can bet your ass my future kids are getting those shots.