Why aren’t more teens vaccinated against HPV?

February 6, 2014

It seems that cost and lack of information are at the heart of why more adolescents aren’t vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a recent review of the literature.

 

It seems that cost and lack of information are at the heart of why more adolescents aren’t vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a recent review of the literature.

The HPV vaccine was licensed in 2006. Although HPV vaccine coverage among US adolescents has risen slowly, it remains low compared with coverage of other recommended vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by 2012 just over half (54%) of teenaged girls (which is statistically unchanged from 2011) and about 1 in 5 teenaged boys received at least 1 dose of HPV vaccine. Only one-third of adolescent girls received all 3 recommended doses of HPV vaccine in 2012.

Researchers from the CDC sought to find out why. They reviewed 55 relevant articles appearing in 2009 or later.

 

They found that health care professionals often cite financial concerns as the reason that more teenagers aren’t vaccinated. Parents, on the other hand, more often cite needing more information before making the decision to vaccinate their children. Other reasons posited by parents included: concerns about the vaccine’s effect on sexual behavior; belief that their children were at low risk of HPV infection; social influences; irregular preventive care; and vaccine cost. Some parents of sons cited perceived lack of direct benefit.

However, hope remains for greater coverage and for a greater role for ob/gyns and other health care professionals in the effort. Parents in the study consistently cited health care professional recommendations as one of the most important factors in their decision to vaccinate their children.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends vaccination against HPV for girls and women aged 9 years through 26 years, given in three doses over a 6-month period.

 

 

 

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