The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) causes 14 million cancer cases a year in the United States including cervical, penile, and throat cancer. It is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. Research also shows one third of youths have had sexual intercourse by age 16. But despite the safety and effectiveness of the three-dose vaccination, only 38% of teen girls and 14% of teen boys receive all three doses, far below the usual 80-90% for other vaccines.
In a society that has become increasingly suspicious of vaccines, it’s not only parents who stand in the way of some children getting vaccinated for human papillomavirus (HPV). A new study published in Pediatrics shows not all pediatricians are recommending or even discussing the HPV virus for eleven- and twelve-year olds.
‘In a society that has become increasingly suspicious of vaccines, it is not only parents who stand in the way of some children getting vaccinated for human papillomavirus. Researchers observed that not all pediatricians are recommending or even discussing this virus for eleven- and twelve-year olds.’
Lolita McDavid, a pediatrician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, said, “84% of pediatricians either strongly or always urge this vaccine. We’re getting there. Remember, this vaccine is less than nine years old.”
While 16% of pediatricians aren’t urging families to get the vaccine for adolescent patients, 11% of pediatricians and family physicians of the 600 surveyed said they do not even discuss the vaccine with eleven- and 12-year-olds. The reasons: the doctor doesn’t think the child is sexually active (54%), the doctor thinks the patient is too young (38%), or the doctor suspects the parents will refuse the vaccine (29%).
Dr. McDavid said, “The importance of giving this vaccine in the eleven to twelve age group is they actually get a better take on the immunization, and you want to protect people before they become sexually active.”
Dr. McDavid said, “If there were a vaccine that prevented breast cancer, and this is the only vaccine that prevents a cancer, I’d be number one in line for that vaccine. This is a good vaccine and we should use it.”