Approved by FDA in 2006, the HPV vaccine is administered as a three-dose series over six months and is effective in preventing infection with certain HPV strains associated with the development of cervical cancer, which affects nearly half a million women worldwide each year and kills more than a 250,000. It also protects against anal, penile and some head and neck cancers as well as genital warts. Berenson added that the vaccine also allows women to avoid the anxiety that comes along with an abnormal Pap smear. The efficacy and duration of protection are proven for only a complete vaccination; the efficacy of only one or two doses is not well established.
In addition to the declining completion rates, researchers found that girls who received the first dose from a gynecologist or obstetrician were more likely to complete the vaccine series than those who received the first dose from a pediatrician.
They also observed an increase in the proportion of female patients who received only the first vaccine dose compared to those who received two or three, indicating that providers are encouraging initiation of the vaccine series but are not following up about the second and third doses.
"It appears that patients and parents do not understand that all three shots of the vaccine are required for HPV protection, and that perhaps physicians are not doing a good enough job of educating and reminding patients to ensure completion," she said. Berenson added that the high cost of the vaccine, one of the commonly cited barriers, was not a likely issue for this group as all were covered by health insurance.
Berenson recommended that better communication with patients and parents about the required doses and scheduling follow up visits could be achieved via phone, email, text messag
|Contact: Molly Dannenmaier|
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston