Doctors may be inadvertently discouraging some parents from having their preteens vaccinated against human papillomavirus, according to a new study, which suggests clinicians often don’t recommend the vaccine strongly enough.
Many pediatricians and family physicians — who deliver the bulk of HPV vaccines — don’t appear to be using the same matter-of-fact approaches as they do when they urge parents to vaccinate their adolescents against meningococcal disease or to get tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis booster shots, it said.
The study, which is based on a national online survey of 776 doctors, found a quarter did not strongly endorse the need for HPV vaccination with the parents of the 11- and 12-year-olds under their care.
Nearly 60 percent were more likely to recommend the vaccine for adolescents they thought were at higher risk of becoming infected — perhaps because the doctors knew or suspected they were sexually active — than for all 11- and 12-year-olds.
“You kind of get the sense that some [health-care] providers see this as a somewhat uncomfortable situation,” said lead author Melissa Gilkey, a behavioral scientist in the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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