THURSDAY, Oct. 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Current rates of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among preteens are too low to achieve goals set by the American Cancer Society, according to a new study.
The cancer society wants an 80 percent vaccination rate among 13-year-olds by 2026. But this new report says an additional 14 million youngsters ages 11 to 12 would have to be vaccinated in the next eight years to reach that objective.
Reaching the 80 percent goal "has the potential to prevent deaths from several cancers," said investigators led by Stacey Fedewa, director of screening and risk factor surveillance for the American Cancer Society.
In 2016, almost 36 percent of females and nearly 32 percent of males were up to date with the HPV vaccine by their 13th birthday. To reach 80 percent by 2026, the researchers determined that 6.77 million more girls and an additional 7.62 million boys would need to receive two doses of the vaccine, the researchers found.
A disproportionate percentage of males, whites and privately insured adolescents are not up to date with HPV vaccination, according to the study.
HPV accounts for nearly all cervical cancers as well as 91 percent of anal cancers, 70 percent of throat cancers, and 60 to 75 percent of other genital cancers, the study authors explained.
The sexually transmitted virus led to about 6,500 cancer deaths in 2014. Nine out of 10 of these cancers can be prevented through HPV vaccination, the cancer society said.
"In our study, more than 90 percent of adolescents who had not initiated HPV vaccination by their 13th birthday had an 11- to 12-year-old wellness visit," Fedewa said in a news release from her organization.
"So most adolescents presumably had an opportunity to be vaccinated during this time frame. Why it's not happening is a critical question," she said.
Fedewa said previous studies have shown that only about half of parents have been advised to vaccinate their child against HPV.
"Broad implementation of the vaccine through innovative strategies for improving physician recommendations, parental acceptance, and access to care is necessary to achieve this goal," the study authors said.
The study was published online recently in the journal Cancer.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on HPV vaccination.