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Home HPV Vaccines HPV Vaccines Most Pediatricians and Family Physicians Offer HPV Vaccines

Most Pediatricians and Family Physicians Offer HPV Vaccines

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A study published in Pediatrics finds that family practice physicians and pediatricians are great at offering HPV vaccines to their patients, but tend to give them to patients older than the recommended 11-12 year old age range. They are less likely to give the HPV vaccine to patients in the 11-12 year old age range that national guidelines recommend.

Two HPV vaccines are available in the U.S., Merck’s Gardasil® and GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix®, and both are approved for use with females ages 9-26 for the prevention of cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. The Merck vaccine is also approved for use with males in the same age range, to prevent genital warts.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends routine use of both vaccines with females ages 11-12, and “permissive” use of the Merck vaccine with males 11-12 years old.

To assess HPV vaccination practices, including barriers to vaccination, Matthew Daley, MD, and colleagues sent surveys to 429 pediatricians and 419 family physicians. The vast majority of doctors who responded said they offer HPV vaccines to their adolescent females patients (98% of pediatricians and 88% family practice clinicians) but are much more likely to recommend the vaccines for those ages 13-15 (90% pediatricians; 86% family practitioners). By comparison, only 57% of pediatricians and half of family practice doctors reported strongly encouraging the vaccines for females ages 11-12. Vaccine

The most common reported barriers to giving the vaccines were cost (including insurance coverage) and, with regard to giving the vaccine to 11-12 year olds, the prospect of including sexuality information in pre-vaccine conversations, and parents being far more accepting of HPV vaccines with older adolescents.

The recommendation to vaccinate all 11-12 year old females is based on the vaccines being more effective when given prior to the onset of sexual activity, which usually begins in the mid-teen years. Also, younger patients tend to have a stronger antibody response to the vaccines.

Matthew F. Daley, Lori A. Crane, Lauri E. Markowitz, Sandra R. Black, Brenda L. Beaty, Jennifer Barrow, Christine Babbel, MSPH, Sami L. Gottlieb, Nicole Liddon, Shannon Stokley, Miriam Dickinson, Allison Kempe. Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Practices: Survey of US Physicians 18 Months After Licensure. Pediatrics; published online Aug 2, 2010.