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Home HPV Vaccines HPV Vaccines Parents and HPV Vaccines

Parents and HPV Vaccines

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Despite recommendations from healthcare providers that adolescents be vaccinated against HPV, a study published in the April issue of Pediatrics indicates Mom and Dad still have some worries and are less likely to have their kids vaccinated against the virus than they were a few  years ago.

HPV vaccines are available for males and females ages 9-26. Routine HPV vaccination is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for all adolescents ages 11-12. ACIP also recommends all 11-12 year olds receive the Meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY), Tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap), and influenza vaccines.

HPV vaccine rates run far behind others on the adolescent vaccine schedule: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that in 2011, just over half of females ages 13-17 had received at least one dose of an HPV vaccine, with only 35% having completed the three-dose series. Tdap, by comparison, had 78.2% uptake while the meningococcal vaccine had 70.5% coverage.

With parents who were queried as part of the 2008–2010 National Immunization Survey of Teens, those who indicated a reluctance to have their kids receive the MenACWY and Tdap vaccines most often cited that the vaccines aren’t needed or that the healthcare provider didn’t recommend them. These same reasons were often mentioned by parents who were hesitant with HPV vaccines, along with concerns about safety/side effects (mentioned by 16.4%, essentially triple from 2008) and a sense the HPV vaccine is unneeded due to their teens not being sexually active (17.4% of respondents).

Overall, approximately 44% of parents said they do not intend to have their children vaccinated against HPV, up from 40% in 2008.

HPV vaccines work best when given before the onset of sexual activity, so that protection is in place prior to HPV exposure. Also, after millions of doses have been delivered worldwide, it’s clear the vaccines have an excellent safety profile. So a key to increasing HPV vaccine uptake likely involves strong communication to parents about the value of the vaccines, the need to vaccinate at an early age, and the strong evidence that the vaccines are safe.


Darden P, Thompson D, Roberts J, Hale J, Pope C, Naifeh M, Jacobson R. Reasons for Not Vaccinating Adolescents: National Immunization Survey of Teens, 2008-2010. PEDIATRICS, 2013. 131 (4): accessed online March 20, 2013 at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/12/peds.2012-2384.full.pdf.