Parents in this study did have other reasons for not wanting their daughters vaccinated. Just over 17 percent said it was "not necessary," and 11 percent said their daughters did not need the vaccine because they were not sexually active -- an erroneous assumption, Cunningham said, because the HPV vaccine should ideally be given before a girl is sexually active.
Surprisingly, Darden said, few parents brought up cost as an issue.
There are two vaccines that can prevent infection with certain cancer-related strains of HPV: Merck's Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix. And both of them cost about $400 for three doses.
Still, most insurance plans and Medicaid cover HPV vaccines. And the government Vaccines for Children program offers free vaccines to lower-income families who are uninsured or "underinsured." That might be why few parents blamed costs, Darden noted.
As for safety, he suggested that parents with concerns go to reliable online sites, like the CDC website, and talk with their child's doctor.
In what Darden called a positive finding, doctors do seem to be recommending HPV vaccination. In 2010, only 9 percent of parents who did not intend to vaccinate their daughters said it was because their doctor hadn't recommended it.
Learn more about HPV vaccination from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Paul Darden, M.D., professor, pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City; Dennis Cunningham, M.D., infectious diseases, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; April 2013, Pediatrics
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