Many doctors don’t urge HPV shots for preteens, study says

HPV vaccine
Photo c/o: Wikimedia Commons

CHICAGO (AP) – Researchers say the results of a new survey suggest that some doctors need a clearer understanding of reasons to vaccinate preteens against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

The survey in the publication Pediatrics finds that many pediatricians and family doctors are not strongly recommending the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine to preteens and their parents, contributing to low vaccination rates. HPV can cause cervical and other cancers.

The vaccine works best if kids get it before they become sexually active. About one-third of all young people have had sex by age 16.

The most common reasons doctors cited for delaying HPV discussions and vaccinations included a belief that patients hadn’t had sex and that parents would object.

A national survey last year found that 60 percent of adolescent girls and only 42 percent of boys had gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. Three doses are recommended.

Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician, said, “It’s possible to get infected with the HPV virus without having sex. I think that is one important consideration for parents.”

The CDC recommends boys get the HPV vaccine around 11 or 12, through age 26. With more than 80 million doses distributed since 2006, the HPV vaccine is considered safe.

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