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Vaccine studies cover autism link, HPV rates

August 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A federal panel of experts reviewed more than a thousand studies about vaccines and side effects.

The conclusion found no evidence that vaccines cause autism or Type 1 diabetes.

The Institute of Medicine review found convincing evidence of 14 already known side effects linked to various vaccines, such as allergic reactions and fever-triggered seizures from the measles vaccine. But like other scientific reports, it found no evidence linking immunization and autism or another serious problem, Type 1 diabetes.

Fears about a link between vaccines and autism have led some parents to refuse vaccinations. Experts hope Thursday's findings reverse that trend.

A vaccine study performed by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention found only half of teen girls in the U.S. received the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. Experts believe the low rate is due to parents being uncomfortable with sexual issues associated with HPV.

Girls are supposed to start the series when they are 11 or 12 - before most girls become sexually active. The vaccine only works if a girl is vaccinated before she's first exposed to the virus.

But some parents may misunderstand, thinking their daughters don't need it at such a young age because they aren't sexually active. Others may believe that it would require a discussion about sex and sexuality - a talk they may not feel ready to have, some experts said.

Rhode Island and Washington had the highest HPV vaccination rates, both around 70 percent for at least one shot. Idaho had the lowest rates, at about 29 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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