Why Doctors May Be To Blame For America’s Low HPV Vaccine Rates

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Researchers who study vaccine rates for human papilloma virus, the cancer-causing sexually transmitted infection, are puzzled and alarmed at how low the vaccination rates really are. They speculate that everything from suspicion about new vaccines to apprehension about discussions on sexual activity may be causing parents to reject the shots for their children.

But a new online survey conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finds that pediatricians may, in fact, play a role in the low vaccine rate.

Of the 776 pediatricians and family doctors surveyed across the nation, 27 percent said they don’t endorse the vaccine strongly and 49 percent said they don’t emphasize urgency by offering the first shot on the day they see a patient.

This is disturbing considering past research that shows recommendations from health care providers are an especially strong factor in people’s decisions to get the vaccine.

The vaccine, typically administered in three doses, is recommended for people ages 11 to 12 to make sure that they are protected as soon as they begin having sex.

But in 2014, only about 60 percent of girls age 13 to 17 had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while only 39.7 percent had received the recommended three doses. The rates are even worse for boys; in 2014, only 41.7 percent had received at least one shot, and only 21.6 percent had completed all three. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that if U.S. teens could achieve 80 percent vaccination rates, the country would avoid 53,000 future cervical cancers.

About 40 strains of HPV cause sexually transmitted warts in the anal and genital areas, while 13 —> Read More