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Mixed Feelings About HPV Vaccine

Mixed Feelings About HPV Vaccine

A sizable majority of U.S. pediatricians and family practice physicians stock and recommend the human papillomavirus vaccine for their patients, according to the results of an analysis in the journal Pediatrics.

About 90% of respondents to a survey sent to 848 physicians said they strongly recommend the HPV vaccine for 13- to 15-year-old female patients. For girls ages 11-12, however, only about half of the physicians recommend the vaccine.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has endorsed HPV vaccination for girls ages 11-12 since 2007, with catch-up shots recommended for females ages 13-26.

The goal of the study was to describe physicians' attitudes and knowledge surrounding the HPV vaccine now that it is widely available. Physicians cited parental refusal and the need to discuss sexuality before administering the vaccine as the chief obstacles to recommending HPV vaccination for younger girls as outlined in the ACIP guidelines.

Lack of insurance coverage for the vaccine was perceived as a barrier by half of the pediatricians and 64% of the family practice physicians.

Generally, physicians had a good grasp of the scientific details of the vaccine, with at least 70% answering most of the questions correctly.

However, about half incorrectly believed that HPV incidence is highest among women in their 30s. The misperception that genital warts and cervical cancer are caused by the same HPV types was endorsed by 60% of pediatricians and 42% of family practice physicians.

The full report, "Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Practices: Survey of U.S. Physicians 18 Months After Licensure," was published online in Pediatrics.

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