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High Effectiveness and Increased Vaccination Rates Mark Success of HPV Vaccine

OCT 12, 2016 | EINAV KEET
Another study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at ways to increase the rate of adolescent girls and boys receiving the full course of the HPV vaccine, which has lagged below vaccination rates for other diseases. Researchers at Denver Health, an integrated organization with over 17,000 adolescent patients, noted a vaccination rate of more than 95% for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis in their patients, and more than 93% coverage for the meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Through a combination of “bundling” the HPV vaccine with other vaccines, offering vaccines at every visit, and issuing/following standard orders, the health system was able to achieve high rates for HPV vaccination. During their study, conducted from 2004 to 2014, the researchers were able to get more than 89% of their female patients vaccinated with at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, while national rates were at 57.3% for females and 34.6% for males. For all three doses of the vaccine, Denver Health achieved a coverage rate of 66% in females and 52.5% in males, faring better than the national average of 37.6% for females and 13.9% for males. The strategy was successful, note the study authors, because it took advantage of every opportunity for vaccination and normalized the HPV vaccine.

With improved HPV vaccination rates in adolescents now a big focus, another recent study, in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, highlights the role that a doctor’s words can play in encouraging a parent to have their child immunized. The study looked at how parents responded to doctors presenting motivational materials for vaccination prepared by the CDC, along with additional messages developed by the research team. Included in the study were 776 primary care doctors and more than 1,500 parents. They found that parents who initially declined the HPV vaccine responded more to messages that contained information regarding how common cases of HPV are, the different cancers that can result from HPV, and how effective the HPV vaccines are. The most effective message, found to be persuasive in 65% of parents, read, “I strongly believe in the importance of this cancer-preventing vaccine for [child's name].” Messages that emphasized parents' role in preventing their child from receiving HPV infections and related cancers decreased hesitancy about the vaccine.

The CDC emphasizes the safety of the HPV vaccine, noting that its development included years of safety testing before receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. Current data shows that the HPV vaccine works in the body for at least 10 years without becoming less effective and can still be effective beyond that period of time.
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