Is HPV Vaccine in Decline?

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More doctors are recommending the HPV Vaccine, but more parents are saying no.

By 2010, almost 44 percent of parents said they did not intend to vaccinate their daughters against human papillomavirus, up from 40 percent in 2008.

“That’s the opposite direction that rate should be going,” senior researcher Robert Jacobson, M.D., a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center said in a press release.

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A study published online today in the journal Pediatrics shows that while the number of up-to-date vaccination rates for other recommended vaccines for teenagers (namely tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) and meningococcal conjugate vaccine) are up, concerns about the HPV vaccine rose over a three-year period.

About 17 percent of parents surveyed said the vaccination wasn’t needed or necessary, and 16 percent cited safety concerns. Over the same period, the percentage of doctors recommending the vaccine rose to 52 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the vaccine for teenage girls since 2007. About 1/3 of eligible girls in the United States have received the vaccine.

Multiple studies have found the vaccine to be free of serious side effects.

“There were a lot of very sensationalized anecdotal reports of (girls) having bad reactions to the vaccine,” pediatrician and vaccine researcher Dr. Amanda Dempsey from the University of Colorado Denver told Reuters Health.

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“Safety concerns have always risen to the top of the pile, in terms of being one of the main reasons people don’t get vaccinated, which is unfortunate because this is one of the most well-studied vaccines in terms of safety and is extremely safe,” Dempsey said.

The analysis was based on a survey of 100,000 parents, the 2008–2010 National Immunization Survey of Teens.

Photo: University of Miami pediatrician Judith L. Schaechter, M.D. (L) gives an HPV vaccination to a 13-year-old girl in her office at the Miller School of Medicine on Sept. 21, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images.