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2 in 5 Parents Don't Support HPV Vaccinations for Daughters: Mayo Study

Mar 18, 2013 08:31 AM EDT

New study shows that more than 2 out of every 5 parents in the U.S. find vaccination against human papilloma virus unnecessary.

According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 11,967 new cases of HPV-associated cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. The agency recommends the HPV vaccination for all pre-teen girls and boys aged 11 to 12.

"HPV causes essentially 100 percent of cervical cancer and 50 percent of all Americans get infected at least once with HPV. It's a silent infection. You cannot tell when you've been exposed or when you have it. While most HPV infections clear, a percentage linger and start the process of cancerous changes. The HPV vaccine is an anti-cancer vaccine," said Robert Jacobson, M.D., a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Center and senior author of the study.

The number of parents saying that they wouldn't get their children vaccinated has grown over the past few years. In 2010, about 44 percent had said no to the vaccine compared to about 40 percent in 2005.

"That's the opposite direction that rate should be going," said Jacobson in a news release.

The data for the study came from the 2008-10 National Immunization Survey of Teens. Researchers looked at the data for immunizations for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis - Tdap; meningococcal conjugate vaccine, or MCV4 vaccine and vaccine against HPV.

The researchers found that although 8 of 10 teens had the Tdap vaccine and roughly 63 percent had the MCV4 vaccine, just a third of all girls had got the recommended vaccination against HPV.

The vaccination works best when given to pre-teens, researchers said. Mayo Clinic begins the course for children 9 years old and above.

"The vaccine works better the younger the child is, and it doesn't work after the child is grown up and is exposed to the virus, so our message should be: 'Give this vaccine now to your child while your child is young and responsive to it,'" said Dr. Jacobson, medical director of the Employee and Community Health Immunization Program at Mayo Clinic.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.                                                               

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