Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

Cancer vaccine exists, goes unused

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., as well as a leading cause of cancer. Many of these cancer cases could be prevented with the HPV vaccine, writes James Hamblin for The Atlantic, yet fewer than half of American children receive it. The rate of HPV vaccination increased by just 5 percent from 2012 to 2013, below the growth target set by the CDC.

See also: What the anti-vaccine movement means for insurers

The ideal time to get the vaccine is at 11 or 12 years of age, when studies have shown that the body produces the strongest antibody response. But it's not happening, and the blame seems to be split between parents (who are not requesting the vaccine) and doctors (who are not encouraging it alongside other vaccines typically given to young teens, like diphtheria and meningitis).

There's an awareness issue here, where a large portion of the public does not know that this critical vaccine is available at a critical point in a child's life. Someone needs to step up as an advocate. Should it be health insurers?

—Nichole Morford
Every 20 minutes a person in the U.S. is diagnosed with a cancer associated with the HPV virus, yet fewer than half of American children are given the vaccination.

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