Teen vaccination: what makes vaccination work and what keeps it from happening in your practice
Thomas, Whitney L.
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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, and in women, infection by the virus is a major risk factor for developing cervical cancer. In 2006 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed the first prophylactic HPV vaccine for use, a quadrivalent formula aimed at the prevention of cervical cancer and its precursors, vaginal and vulvar cancer and its precursors and anogenital warts. Large-scale studies have shown the vaccine to be both safe and effective. Subsequently, many countries adopted a nationwide vaccine program to ensure all girls, usually around the age of 11 or 12, are vaccinated. Such programs have been largely successful and coverage rates of up to 77% have been reported for the three-dose vaccine series. However, HPV vaccine uptake rates in the United States are meager at best. This study aims to elucidate some of the reasons why adolescent girls in the United States are not receiving the HPV vaccine. Pediatric providers at an urban community health center were asked to fill out a survey that assessed their general vaccine knowledge, current HPV vaccination practices, barriers and attitudes toward vaccination and office practices. Due to the strong influence of provider recommendation of the HPV vaccine on uptake rates, and the association between provider knowledge and likelihood of recommending the vaccine, providers should become more familiar with current guidelines for administering the HPV vaccine. Furthermore, it is important that providers educate patients and their parents about the proven safety and efficacy of the vaccine. With time, these measures alone may increase HPV immunization rates in the United States without the need for an HPV vaccine mandate.
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