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HPV Vaccine not Optimized in Girls aged 11-12

Young adolescents aged 11 to 12 years are particularly being targeted by national treatment guidelines for vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, based on a recently published study, the majority of pediatricians and family physicians in the United States are offering the HPV vaccine to their older adolescent patients, but not as much to younger adolescents. The same situation is likely in other countries including the Philippines.

The authors of the study aimed to assess HPV-related attitudes and vaccination practices, perceived barriers to vaccination, and factors associated with whether or not physicians strongly recommended HPV vaccine to 11 to 12-year-old female patients in a sample of US pediatricians and family physicians.

Practically 98 percent and 88 percent of family physicians reported administering HPV vaccine to female patients in their offices. Female family physicians were more likely to give the vaccine than male family physicians (95 versus 83 percent).

Fewer of the doctor-respondents strongly recommended HPV vaccination for 11 to 12-year old girls than for older female patients. Among pediatricians, 57 percent said they recommended the vaccine for that age group, but 90 percent recommended the vaccine for their 13 to 15-year–old patients. A similar attitude was seen in family physicians.

Parental concern about HPV vaccination was also identified as a barrier, and the doctors cited concerns of parents that vaccination against a sexually transmitted infection may encourage earlier or riskier sexual behavior. Some even reported that many parents felt upset that they (the doctors) were offering the vaccine to that age group.

“These survey data indicate that there may be substantial challenges to timely initiation and completion of the 3-dose HPV vaccine series,” concluded the study authors.

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