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Doctors Fail to Stress HPV Vaccine

 Each year, there are 33,700 new cancers in the U.S. related to human papillomavirus and 4,175 women die annually of cervical cancer—a cancer which is almost entirely attributable to HPV. Despite the statistics, immunization rates for the HPV vaccine remain relatively low, with only 53 percent of girls and 44 percent of boys completing the vaccine series.

A recent study found that many doctors are not giving the HPV vaccine their strongest, most persuasive recommendation. Researchers found that only 65 percent of pediatricians and 42 percent of family practitioners used the strongest and most persuasive method of introducing the HPV vaccine: a presumptive style of initiating, meaning that they say, “We have three vaccines for today.” 

Almost a quarter of family practitioners and about 16 percent of pediatricians used a less effective method, which is a more conversational style. Doctors surveyed said that some of the barriers to the HPV vaccination were misinformation parents receive from the Internet or social media, parental concerns about safety of the HPV vaccine, parents not thinking the HPV vaccine was necessary for their daughters or sons, and opposition to vaccination for moral or religious reasons. 

One positive finding: doctors surveyed reported that the new two-dose HPV vaccines for kids over age 15 (instead of three-doses) is increasing acceptance and successful completion of the HPV vaccination in older teens. Researchers concluded improvements are needed in how the HPV vaccine is being recommended and that communication training materials and apps, as well as further development of evidence-based messages for parents, may be helpful in improving the way HPV vaccination is introduced to families of teens. 

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Tags: Health, Tweens & Teens

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