El Paso

Report: Texas lags in HPV vaccinations, but El Paso among highest in country

HPV vaccination rates in El Paso highest in Texas

EL PASO, Texas - A newly-released report has found while Texas lags in HPV vaccinations, El Paso County has one of the highest rates in the country. 

According to the University of Texas System Office of Health Affairs, HPV is transmitted primarily through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal or oral sex. 

The report looked at vaccinations at Texas teens between 13-17 years old, based on data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen. The report found 39.7 percent of women and 26.5 percent of men were up-to-date with the vaccine in 2016. 

However in El Paso County, the report found 66% of teens were vaccinated, the second highest rate in the country behind Rhode Island with 70.8% and above District of Columbia with 62%. 

The connection between HPV and cervical cancer was first established in the 1980s. Now, those in the medical industry have found HPV is responsible for many other types of cancers impacting both women and men. 

"We know there's a lot of people who don't firmly believe in the vaccine," said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, "We in El Paso, however, are showing that we still believe in the vaccines and its benefits."

The vaccine which is approved for 2-3 doses, can be given to children as young as nine-years-old and to adults up to 26.  

"If we administer the vaccine early enough before the person gets exposed to the virus the chances that our bodies produce the antibodies against the virus are greater," Ocaranza said. 

The report also states a general reluctance to vaccinate wasn't the problem, as parents still vaccinated their children for tetanus, and meningitis. 

"There's a stigma given the fact that, yes, human papilloma virus, some of them are sexually transmitted," Dr. Ocaranza said.

He believes it's a bit different in El Paso County.   

"Whether it's because we've seen the positive affects of that, our providers provided the right message to people too...culture, the type of population we have."

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