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Study: Many Parents of Teens Opting Out of HPV Vaccine

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The HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer and is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention for 11 or 12-year-olds, so why don’t more parents choose it for their child?

A new study published in Pediatrics looked at why the number of parents who said they are opting out of the vaccine is climbing, from 39.8 percent in 2008 to 43.9 percent in 2010. The study’s survey revealed that safety concerns are one of the main reason parents skip it. In fact, the number of parents who expressed concern over the vaccine’s safety more than tripled from 2008 to 2010. 

Plus: Guide to Vaccines

“There’s been a fair amount of anti-HPV coverage in the media,” says study author Paul Darden, M.D., Section Chief of General & Community Pediatrics at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, citing the highly publicized death of 17-year-old Jessica Ericzon, whose parents believe she was a “guinea pig” for Gardasil, the brand name for the vaccine. “But it’s a safe and effective vaccine," says Dr. Darden, who has also been a consultant and served on an advisory board for Pfizer, Inc., in the past three years.

Other reasons that parents don’t vaccinate their adolescents for HPV include not knowing it is recommended (many parents drop off on annual check-ups as their kids age), or feeling it’s not needed because their child is not sexually active.

Did your child get the HPV vaccine? If not, why? Leave a comment.

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