If girls had one or more doses of HPV vaccine before their 13th birthdays, 91 percent would have some protection from cancers caused by the sexually transmitted virus, according to the analysis, published in the July 25 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Parental concerns are one obstacle, the researchers found. When asked why they hadn't had their son or daughter vaccinated, parents said their doctor didn't recommend the vaccine, that they had concerns about the vaccine's safety or that their children were not sexually active.
"We find that when we talk to parents about vaccinating their children, they think you are saying it's OK to have premarital sex," said Dr. Eric Genden, a professor of otolaryngology at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.
There also is some fear of vaccinations because of the now widely debunked claim linking vaccines to autism, he said.
The CDC believes HPV-vaccine coverage would dramatically increase if doctors recommended the HPV vaccine along with other routine immunizations. The agency pointed out that nearly 86 percent of teens have received one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, indicating the opportunity for broader HPV vaccination exists.
Three-quarters of parents who had their daughters vaccinated against HPV said their doctor had recommended it compared with 52 percent of parents who didn't have their daughters vaccinated, the researchers found.
For boys, 72 percent of parents who had their sons vaccinated did so on their doctor's advice while only one-quarter of parents who hadn't had their sons vaccinated said the doctor had recommended the vaccine.
Some parents think "my child is not at risk for STDs, so this isn't really applicable to us," Wyand said. "But we know that everybody is at risk for STDs, especially HPV."
The two HPV vaccines available
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