Georgia’s doing better than many other states when it comes to vaccinating girls against Human papillomavirus (HPV).
Last year, more than 65 percent of Georgia’s 12- to 17-year-old girls got at least one dose of the HPV vaccination, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. That’s more than 5 percent above the national average. It was also 12 percent higher than the previous year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends girls and boys as young as 11 get vaccinated against HPV. According to the CDC, HPV can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex.
“The campaign that we waged, both to educate the public and to work with the physician community, to emphasize the importance of HPV immunizations may be one of the reasons that we’ve seen improvement,” said Dr. Patrick O’Neal, director of health protection for Georgia’s Department of Public Health.
The campaign was funded with more than $440,000 awarded to the department by the CDC. O’Neal also said the messaging likely made a difference.
“We focused on the fact that this was basically a vaccine that prevented cancer. And I think that’s a much more potent message than anything related to sexually transmitted diseases,” said O’Neal.