Health care providers appeared significantly less likely to recommend the HPV vaccine to boys than girls, according to study results presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.
The finding — which emerged from a survey of parents — may have contributed to slower uptake of HPV vaccination among boys, researchers wrote.
The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine to all children aged 11 to 12 years. The vaccine can be administered in two doses if it is started prior to a child’s 15th birthday, or in a three-dose series if started after.
Anna Beavis, MD, MPH, gynecologic oncologist fellow at Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues used data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen from 2015 to calculate HPV vaccine initiation among boys and girls aged 13 to 17 years.
Results showed that, in 2015, a significantly higher percentage of girls than boys had initiated HPV vaccination (63% vs. 50%; P < .001).
The most common reason for not initiating the vaccine was a perceived lack of necessity for both boys (22%) and girls (21%).
Nearly one in five (19%) parents of boys cited lack of provider recommendation as the primary reason why they did not initiate the vaccine, compared with one in 10 (10%) parents of girls.
“It is clear that physicians need to give a strong recommendation to both parents of boys and girls,” Beavis said in a press release. “They also need to remind parents of the importance of getting all doses, which makes the vaccine the most effective in preventing HPV.”
Parents of both boys and girls also cited the lack of knowledge about the vaccine as another reason for not pursuing vaccination (boys, 14%; girls, 13%).
Additionally, parents of boys appeared less likely than parents of girls to report concerns related to the safety of the vaccine and the potential for side effects (9% vs. 14%).
Three percent of parents of boys cited gender as their reason for not vaccinating.
Parents of girls appeared more likely than parents of boys to indicate their child’s lack of sexual activity influenced their decision not to pursue vaccination (15% vs. 9%).
“In general, the most common reason parents do not vaccinate both boys and girls was a misperception that the HPV vaccine is not necessary, which is reported by 20% of parents of girls and 10% of parents of boys,” Beavis said in the release.
The researchers recommended health care providers tailor their message to address gender-specific parental concerns in order to promote HPV vaccine uptake. – by Cassie Homer
Beavis AL, et al. Abstract 318. Presented at: Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer; March 24-27, 2018; New Orleans.
HemOnc Today could not confirm the authors’ relevant financial disclosures at the time of reporting.