HEALTH

HPV vaccine rate for Utah teens increasing

Nov 3, 2022, 2:00 PM | Updated: 3:35 pm
huntsman cancer institute pictured with a section lighted purple, the institute just released an HP...
The Huntsman Cancer Institute is lighted purple in honor of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month on September 6, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Huntsman Cancer Institute)
(Huntsman Cancer Institute)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah historically had one of the lowest rates of teens getting the HPV vaccine, but new data shows that’s changing. According to data from the CDC, Utah’s HPV vaccination rate for kids ages 13 to 17 has jumped 16.4% since 2020.

That increase moves Utah from 44th to 20th in the nation for first doses.

The University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute said it’s the highest increase ever in the state.

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause up to six different kinds of cancer, including cervical, vaginal, anal, penile and oropharyngeal.

Heather Simonsen, Public Affairs Manager at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said the vaccine, “is cancer prevention.”

Simonsen also said, “Take the controversy out of it…this is a gift you can give to your child.”

Researchers think the increase could be driven by a change in attitude towards the vaccine and towards the idea of having multiple sexual partners. 

“Life happens. A large portion of marriages end in divorce, no matter what a person’s religious affiliation. It’s best to protect kids from the unexpected,” Dr. Deanna Kepka, said in a release from Huntsman Cancer Institute. 

The CDC recommends all people ages 9 to 26 get the HPV vaccine, though doctors say the earlier the better.

“If young men and women get the vaccine earlier, they mount a stronger immune response,” Simonsen said. “Now is the time to do it…life happens and can be unpredictable.”

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HPV vaccine rate for Utah teens increasing