November 7, 2011

Parents Not Vaccinating Teens

By: Alicia Rose DelGallo, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Parents of teenagers aged 13 to 17 years old are not vaccinating their teens against major diseases, even though they understand the importance, a new study shows. A recent online survey, done by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) showed significant differences between the perceived importance and whether parents´ teens were fully vaccinated.

The survey, released at the AOA´s OMED 2011 conference and exposition, looked at four vaccinations of special importance to teenagers; TDAP, which immunizes against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis; MCV, the meningitis vaccine; HepB, the vaccine for hepatitis B, and the HPV vaccine.

The results found that 65 percent of parents said that it was important for their children to be fully vaccinated for HPV, but only about 34 percent said their children are — the biggest difference of the four vaccines surveyed. In addition, 90 percent said it was important to vaccinate against meningitis, but only about 61 percent of children are. For HepB the numbers were 88 percent compared to 73 percent; and 95 percent to 84 percent for the Tdap vaccine.

Parents cited concerns about health risks or allergies associated with vaccines as the top reason why they have not vaccinated their teens. Other reasons included not considering them a serious health threat, and having future plans to vaccinate.

"It´s understandable that parents might be concerned about potential allergies from vaccines," Stanley E. Grogg, DO, and liaison for the AOA to the Center for Disease Control´s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices, was quoted as saying. "But in most cases, the benefit of vaccinations to help prevent your child from getting any of these diseases outweighs the harm."

Grogg added that it is very important to educate parents and try to change their perceptions about vaccines.

Survey results also showed that for three of the four vaccinations, the middle income level ($25,000 to $49,999) were the least likely to have their teens vaccinated. The exception was for HPV, where the highest income level (more than $50,000) was the least likely.

More than one-third of the parents surveyed expressed concerns about health risks associated with the HPV vaccines, but when asked if HOV is associated with certain forms of cancer, more than 30 percent said "No," or "I don´t know."

"Clearly there is a need for more education about how the HPV vaccine can help to prevent the spread of disease, including protecting women from cervical cancer," Grogg said.

Painful injections, the need to receive three separate injections, and price were all quoted by Grogg as additional reasons why teens are not vaccinated against HPV.

He went on to say that girls are not the only ones who can be vaccinated. Recently, Grogg said, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the vaccine for males ages 11 to 21.

The survey was conducted from September 28 to October 1, 2011. It included 1,034 respondents, and had a confidence level of 95 percent.

SOURCE: OMED 2011, in-person interview with Dr. Grogg, held on Tuesday November 1, 2011