Why Aren’t More Teens Vaccinated Against Cancer Causing HPV?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Anna Beavis, MD, MPH Assistant Professor The Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics Johns Hopkins Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287-128

Dr. Beavis

Anna Beavis, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor
The Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service
Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21287-128

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We wanted to look at reasons parents don’t vaccinate their children against HPV, including how those reasons have changed over time from 2010-2016 and how those reasons are different between boys and girls in the most recent data from 2016. We used a nationwide dataset which is publically available from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) – the National Immunization Survey-Teen, or NIS-Teen – which surveys parents of teens ages 13-17 years old every year to determine rates of all recommended vaccinations. In parents who report that they don’t intend to vaccinate their child against HPV , the survey asks parents why.

We found that from 2010 to 2016, the percentage of parents reporting concerns about their child not being sexually active yet went down significantly for both boys and girls. Also, in boys specifically, parents reported male gender as a less common reason for not vaccinating. For both boys and girls, we found that concerns about safety and side effects, necessity, and lack of knowledge about the vaccine were common reasons for not planning to vaccinate.  Also, 10% of parents of girls vs. 20% of parents of boys reporting never having a provider recommendation for the vaccine as their primary reason for not vaccinating.

These results may reflect the growing public understanding of the HPV vaccine as a vaccine which is best given before exposure, so before initiation of sexual activity between the ages of 11 and 12, and that it is recommended for both boys and girls. Also, over 80% of people will have an HPV infection in their lifetime, so everyone should get vaccinated regardless of anticipated sexual activity.

Additionally, providers should focus their counseling and recommendation on improving knowledge about the HPV vaccine, including its decade-long track record of safety and necessity.   

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Parents continue to vaccinate their children against HPV at lower rates compared to other vaccines, and the reasons are largely related to concerns about safety, necessity, and knowledge about the vaccine. Physicians and public health campaigns need to address these concerns.  There is over a decade of data that this vaccine is as safe as any other vaccine, and that it does work to prevent HPV-related pre-cancer and cancer.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We need more studies to understand how best to address parents’ concerns about the HPV vaccine in order to increase vaccination rates. Our study demonstrates that we need to address parents’ concerns about safety, necessity and knowledge of the vaccine. Additionally, all physicians should strongly recommend this cancer-preventing vaccine. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: There is no cure for cancer. But, there is a vaccine that could prevent tens of thousands of cancer cases a year. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective, and recommended for males and females.

I have no disclosures.


Anna Beavis, Melinda Krakow, Kimberly Levinson, Anne F. Rositch. Reasons for Lack of HPV Vaccine Initiation in NIS-Teen Over Time: Shifting the Focus From Gender and Sexuality to Necessity and Safety. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2018; 63 (5): 652 DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.06.024

Oct 27, 2018 @ 4:14 pm

The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.