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Parents of Older Children Are Concerned about HPV and Other Vaccinations, According to New American Osteopathic Association Survey


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An online survey by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) finds that concerns about vaccinations aren't limited to the parents of young children.  In fact, while the majority of parents see the importance of making sure that their 13- to 17-year-old children are current on national recommendations for vaccinations, there's a significant difference between the perceived importance and whether their children are fully vaccinated.

The biggest difference in the survey is for the human papillomavirus--commonly referred to as HPV:  Approximately 65 percent of parents note that it's important for their children to be fully vaccinated for HPV, but only about 34 percent say that their children are.

This discrepancy is also found with the other vaccinations that the survey addresses:

  • Approximately 90 percent of parents say that it's important for their children to be vaccinated for meningitis, but just about 61 percent say that their children are.

  • For hepatitis B, about 88 percent say that it's important to be fully vaccinated, while only 73 percent say that their children are.

  • With tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis--which are covered by the TDAP vaccine--almost 95 percent of parents say that it's important for their children to be fully vaccinated, but just about 84 percent say that their children are.

Being concerned about health risks or allergies that are associated with vaccines is the top reason that parents in the survey give as to why they feel that it's unimportant for their teens to be current on vaccinations.

However, the AOA's Stanley Grogg, DO--a board-certified osteopathic pediatrician--emphasizes the importance of vaccinations in helping to prevent diseases:  "It's understandable that parents might be concerned about potential allergies from vaccines.  But, in most cases, the benefit of vaccinations to help prevent your children from getting any of these diseases outweighs the harm."

The survey also focused on some specific misperceptions about HPV.  Just last week [the week of October 24th], a federal advisory panel began recommending that boys be vaccinated against HPV at age 11 or 12.  Previously, the panel recommended that only girls be vaccinated at 11 or 12 against the virus--along with females up through 26 years of age who were not fully vaccinated when they were younger.

The body's immune system can get rid of some types of HPV before they cause harm, explains Dr. Grogg, but others can lead to more-serious conditions--like cervical cancer and genital warts.

When asked if HPV is associated with certain forms of cancer, more than 30 percent of parents in the survey either believe that it isn't or don't know.

Furthermore, more than a third of the respondents say that concerns about health risks and allergies that are associated with vaccines is the top reason why their children aren't specifically vaccinated against HPV.  Other reasons that parents give for not having their children vaccinated against HPV include not viewing the virus as a serious health threat--and that their children aren't sexually active and, therefore, don't need the vaccine.

"Clearly, there's a need for more education about how the HPV vaccine can help to prevent the spread of disease," Dr. Grogg adds.

The AOA offers additional information about vaccinations--including national recommendations for vaccinations and health articles about vaccines--at osteopathic.org/teenvaccines.

The survey results are being announced during the AOA's Osteopathic Medical Conference & Exposition--which runs from October 30th through November 3rd at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

The survey was conducted from September 28th to October 1st, 2011.  A total of 1,034 respondents completed the online survey.  A sample size of 1,034 has a margin of error of approximately 3.1 percent at the 95-percent confidence level.



Copyright 2011 North American Network, Inc.

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