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Less than a third of Oregon kids have received HPV vaccines by their 13th birthday, according to state data.

OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY - The chart shows HPV vaccine completion rates in each of Oregon's 36 counties in 2019. Columbia County's rate was 49%.Oregon Health & Science University is working to boost immunization rates among kids — particularly for the HPV vaccine — through participating in a statewide project.

Through the Rural Adolescent Vaccine Enterprise project, 45 rural Oregon clinics are leading "local, community-wide intervention projects as part of their involvement in the project," an OHSU press release stated.

The RAVE project, which is funded by the American Cancer Society, aims to increase vaccination against HPV, or human papillomavirus.

Two doses are recommended for boys and girls if started before the age of 15, or three doses if started later.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, but most people who are infected don't display any symptoms. The virus usually goes away on its own within two years, but it can cause cancer in cases where it doesn't.

HPV causes almost all cases of cervical cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it can cause other cancers in men and women.

Both statewide and in Columbia County, less than a third of children had received two doses of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, by their 13th birthday, 2020 data shows.

Among 13- to 17-year-olds, still just 52% had completed their HPV vaccine course.

Along with the HPV vaccine, 11 and 12-year-olds are advised to get vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, as well as meningococcal disease (which includes meningitis).

The HPV vaccine isn't required for school attendance, but the HPV vaccination rate is far lower than for other vaccinations that also aren't required for school.

In 2020, 89% of children in Columbia County received the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine and 77% received the meningococcal vaccine before age 13 — far above the state average for both vaccines. Tdap is required to attend school, while the HPV and meningococcal vaccines are not.

"Our clinic is dedicated to improving the health and safety of our community, and by increasing HPV vaccine rates among children and adolescents, we can prevent future disease," OHSU Scappoose nurse practitioner Maeve McGarry said in a press release.

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