Teens Behind on Some Vaccines for Surprising Reasons

A survey of parents has found that many teenagers are not receiving vaccine boosters that are readily available, proven safe, and important protectors against serious but preventable diseases.  CNN.com reports:

“These vaccines are safe and effective and people should really have their teens get them,” says Dr. Paul Darden, lead author of the study and professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. “Parents say pediatricians are telling them about the vaccines, yet they just don’t seem to understand why they are necessary or are skeptical about their safety.”

When parents of teens were asked why their children didn’t receive certain forms of the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) and meningitis vaccine, some parents noted these shots were not recommended or not necessary, according to the study. Others did not have a reason.

Regarding the controversial and fairly new vaccine that protects against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus – which has been linked to cancer – some parents also said it was not necessary. In other cases parents noted their children were not sexually active or were not the appropriate age to receive the vaccine.

Concerns of mothers and fathers about the safety of the HPV vaccine grew each year, from 4.5% in 2008 to 16.4% in 2010, according to the study. The number of parents who said they would not vaccinate their children for HPV increased from 39.8% in 2008 to 43.9% in 2010. The main concern was safety.

Investigators were surprised, because the vaccine has been found to be very effective in preventing the virus that causes cervical cancer in young women.

“We thought perhaps many parents would think the HPV vaccine would give kids permission to have sex, and therefore not allow their children to get it. But that wasn’t it,” explained Darden. “They seemed to be skeptical of its safety, which is odd, because it’s shown to be effective with few side effects. We have a vaccine that protects against cancer. Why not vaccinate your child? I don’t get it.”

Image: Teen girl getting a shot, via Shutterstock

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  1. by Seriously

    On March 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Seriously you don’t get it? Thousands of young girls becoming paralyzed from your “safe and effective” cancer vaccine and you wonder why parents think it’s unsafe?!

  2. by Jaymie

    On March 20, 2013 at 2:54 am

    I completely understand why parents would be skeptical, but every vaccine or medication has side effects, some more serious than others. I get palpitations just from using muscle relaxers, which is the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do, but that doesn’t stop me from taking my medications or getting my vaccines. I’ve gotten the first HPV shot, no side effects, missed out on my second two and now have to start the shots over 6 weeks after I give birth. I’m perfectly fine with this. I know that I’m at a decently high risk of HPV, my mother has all 3 HPV viruses, and there’s a family history of it. Seeing what they’ve gone through and what some of them are going through just breaks my heart. Regardless of the possible side effects, I’m still going to get my vaccinations. As I said before, all medications and vaccinations have side effects, but you still go ahead and get them, why cut out the ones that we could benefit the most from? There’s risk to everything, and sometimes playing it “safe” just doesn’t cut it.