Pediatricians Not Strongly Recommending HPV Vaccine to Preteens

August 11, 2010

Although the majority of pediatricians and family physicians in the US are offering the HPV vaccine, fewer physicians are strongly encouraging it for 11- to 12-year-old girls, according to findings published in Pediatrics.

Although the vast majority of pediatricians and family physicians in the US are offering the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, fewer physicians are strongly encouraging it for 11- to 12-year-old girls as recommended by national guidelines, according to findings published in Pediatrics.

The CDC-sponsored study is the first of its kind to examine current HPV vaccination practices of US physicians since the three-dose vaccine series was licensed in 2006 and became widely available, according to an online report.

For the study, researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and The Children’s Hospital in Denver surveyed 429 pediatricians and 419 family physicians throughout the US; of those who responded, 98% of pediatricians and 88% of family physicians reported that HPV vaccine was being administered to their female patients. Among those physicians, fewer strongly recommended HPV vaccination for 11- to 12-year-old female patients than for older female patients.

“HPV vaccination is our best chance at preventing cervical cancer, so it’s reassuring doctors are using it. However, vaccination should ideally begin at 11 years of age, so that young women complete the 3-dose series and are protected,” lead author Matthew F. Daley, MD, of University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research, was quoted as saying.

According to the report, the most-frequently reported barriers to HPV vaccination were financial, including vaccine costs and insurance coverage. Factors associated with not strongly recommending the vaccine to 11- to 12-year-old girls included “considering it necessary to discuss sexuality before recommending HPV vaccine and reporting more vaccine refusals among parents of younger versus older adolescents.”