A shockingly low number of doctors foster HPV vaccination among preteens, thus explaining why this type of immunization isn’t as extensive as it had been hoped to become.
This was the conclusion of a study, featured on Monday, December 4 in the journal Pediatrics. Research was conducted by experts, under the coordination of Dr. Allison Kempe, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The analysis included a group of 582 family doctors and pediatricians, who participated in a nationwide survey around 2 years ago. The purpose was to identify practices related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, by discovering how frequently this type of preventive treatment had been recommended to pre-teen patients.
HPV immunization has been introduced in 2006 among girls, in the form of Gardasil, a 3-dose vaccine proven effective against 4 HPV strains (type 6, 11, 16 and 18), which can result in several types of cancer (cervical, anal and oropharyngeal).
Back in 2011, given that this vaccination had also been proven safe and effective among boys, when it came to combating penile, anal and throat cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to expand the scope of the immunization, in order to cover female and male patients, likewise.
However, in spite of such guidelines, physicians seldom urge preteens and their families to opt for HPV vaccination. As revealed by this new study, pediatricians and family doctors tend to show reluctance when it comes to presenting and promoting the benefits of the HPV vaccine among those under the age of 12.
While they briefly mention this vaccine to younger individuals, more than a third of all practitioners refrain from compelling kids to have the HPV shots as soon as possible, especially as far as male patients are concerned.
Usually, this occurs because physicians are of the opinion that such immunization isn’t necessary yet, or because they believe parents might reject this suggestion altogether.
The pretext that the patient appeared to be too young to receive this vaccination seems slightly incongruous, since the shots are the most efficient when the recipient is a virgin, and approximately a third all kids under the age of 16 have already engaged in sexual intercourse.
In fact, the ideal age for receiving this type of vaccine is actually 11 or 12, in order to ensure that its effectiveness is at its highest.
Failure to benefit from the physicians’ support may explain why immunization rates remain so low at the moment. The National Immunization Survey – Teen carried out in 2014 has shown that 6 out of 10 boys and 4 out of 10 girls, aged between 13 and 17, remain unvaccinated.
Even so, the incidence of HPV infections among females aged 14 to 19 has declined by as much as 56% ever since 2006, when the vaccine first became available.
This suggests that much greater progress could be achieved, if only more support for this immunization was shown by the medical community, and provided that “knowledge gaps” were replaced with comprehensive information regarding the hazardous nature of the human papillomavirus.
Across the United States, 14 million people acquire HPV infections on a yearly basis, and the total number of patients who have already been affected by this virus amounts to 79 million individuals, the vast majority of them being in their early twenties or late teens.
Image Source: Flickr