Teen vaccination rates are increasing, but a team of researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center wanted to find out why some families are holding out on the newest vaccines for adolescents.
“Vaccines are among the most effective things we do as doctors,” said Dr. Paul Darden, who works in the pediatrics department at the OU College of Medicine.
Darden and his team looked at three vaccines that have hit the market in recent years:
Tdap, which prevents tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
MCV4, which prevents meningitis.
HPV, which prevents the human papilloma virus, a cause of cervical cancer. At first the vaccine was recommended for girls, but now it is recommended for boys, too.
The researchers analyzed parent surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Darden's study was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It will appear in the April edition of “Pediatrics.”
Three main reasons
Parents who didn't have their teens immunized for Tdap and meningitis gave three main reasons for skipping the shots: A doctor hadn't recommended it, parents didn't view the vaccines as necessary, or parents didn't know enough about the shots.
But for the HPV vaccine, parents gave a fourth reason to skip the shots: their children weren't sexually active yet.
But that is one of the reasons adolescents should be vaccinated, Darden said.
“You need to get it before you're sexually active in order to have the optimal protection,” he said.
Another challenge the HPV vaccine faces is that the public won't see the benefits for years, he said.
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Vaccines are among the most effective things we do as doctors.”
Dr. Paul Darden,