By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new report finds many Philadelphia adolescents aren’t getting a vaccination that could protect them from developing a variety of cancers.

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A report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association says in the Philadelphia-area HPV vaccinations are far behind other vaccines for adolescent that cover things like meningitis and whooping cough.

Stella Sosnow, 10, is getting her first of two shots to the prevent the human papillomavirus.

“I want to protect her against disease as much as I can,” Stella’s mother, Beth said.

HPV is sexually transmitted and is linked to more than 31,000 cases of cancer each year.

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It’s recommended that teenagers get vaccinated before they become sexually active.

“It protects against anal cancer, throat cancer, tongue cancer, penile cancer, as well as cervical cancer,” Dr. Monique Araya, a pediatrician, said. “So, the vaccine is the only tool we have right now to prevent those cancers in our children.”

According to this new report, only 34 percent of adolescents in the Philadelphia region received the recommended first dose of the HPV vaccine by their 13th birthday.

Whereas, more than 90 percent of local teens get their meningococcal and TDaP vaccines.

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According to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the top three reasons parents are not getting their children vaccinated are the following:

  1. concerns about adverse side effects
  2. not thinking their child is at risk
  3. not knowing their childed needed an HPV vaccine

HPV vaccination rates for boys are even lower than girls and HPV is now one of the leading causes of throat cancer in men.

Doctors say it’s important for both girls and boys to get the vaccine, which has been proven both safe and effective.

HPV vaccination rates are low around the country.

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