A Strong Provider Recommendation Matters. Don’t Just “Offer” HPV Vaccine to Parents for Preteens. Recommend It!

January 2014

Technically Speaking
Monthly Column by Deborah Wexler, MD
Deborah Wexler MD
Technically Speaking is a monthly column written by IAC’s Executive Director Deborah Wexler, MD. The column is featured in The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center’s (VEC’s) monthly e-newsletter for healthcare professionals. Technically Speaking columns cover practical topics in immunization delivery such as needle length, vaccine administration, cold chain, and immunization schedules.
Check out a recent issue of Vaccine Update for Healthcare Providers. The VEC e-newsletter keeps providers up to date on vaccine-related issues and includes reviews of recently published journal articles, media recaps, announcements about new resources, and a regularly updated calendar of events.
A Strong Provider Recommendation Matters. Don’t Just “Offer” HPV Vaccine to Parents for Preteens. Recommend It!
Published January 2014
Information presented in this article may have changed since the original publication date. For the most current immunization recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, visit www.immunize.org/acip/acip_vax.asp.
Let’s start with the good news. Since human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was licensed for use in the U.S. in 2006, vaccine-type HPV prevalence has declined 56 percent among females 14 through 19 years of age.
Now for the bad news. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent National Immunization Survey for teens, HPV vaccination rates did not increase at all from 2011 to 2012 in 13- to 17-year-old girls. Only half of these teens received the first dose of this anticancer vaccine, and only one-third received the full three-dose series.
Tdap and meningococcal vaccines were added to the vaccination schedule for preteens at about the same time, yet their coverage rates are much higher, 85 percent and 74 percent, respectively.
These survey results demonstrate that we are missing opportunities to vaccinate preteens against HPV. We need to do better.
Provider Recommendations Matter
Research consistently shows that a provider’s recommendation to vaccinate is the single most influential factor in convincing parents to vaccinate their children. Here are some important points to remember and statements you can make to parents when recommending HPV vaccine:
Rather than just asking parents if they’re interested in getting HPV vaccine for their child, you could say: “HPV vaccine is very important because it prevents cancer. That’s why I’m recommending that your daughter/son receive the first dose of HPV vaccine today.”
You can say: “HPV can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women, cancer of the penis in men, and cancers of the anus and the mouth or throat in both men and women.”
You can say: “We’re vaccinating your child today so that he/she will have the best protection possible, well before he/she might be exposed to HPV.”
You can say: “I strongly believe in the importance of this cancer-preventing vaccine, and I have given HPV vaccine to my son/daughter/grandchild/niece/nephew/friend’s children. Experts (like the AAP, AAFP, ACOG, cancer doctors, and CDC) also agree that this vaccine is very important for your child.”
How You Approach the HPV Vaccine Discussion Matters
Your approach to discussing HPV vaccination with a parent strongly influences whether they have their child vaccinated. When you only ask parents if they’d like to vaccinate their child, rather than recommending it, vaccine acceptance drops significantly. Your strong recommendation is what is needed to protect our nation’s children from HPV.
Useful HPV Resources for Your Practice
From the CDC:
HPV Vaccine Portal for Healthcare Providers. A collection of resources for healthcare professionals on HPV
Video: Recommending HPV Vaccine Successfully. CDC Expert Commentary from Medscape, Anne Schuchat, MD, Assistant Surgeon General, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
Tips and Time-Savers for Talking with Parents about HPV Vaccine. Sample scripts from CDC explain how to recommend HPV vaccine.
From the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC):
Human Papillomavirus (HPV): A parent’s guide to preteen and teen HPV vaccination. IAC’s new HPV handout for parents provides answers to common questions about HPV and HPV vaccination.
HPV Is a Serious Disease…Make Sure Your Child Is Protected! Use this handout to teach parents about the seriousness of HPV and the value of vaccination.
Spanish-language version
HPV video collection
Vaccineinformation.org: HPV Web section as well as personal testimonies about all vaccine preventable diseases
From the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (VEC):
Prevent HPV website. This website for parents provides information, resources and videos about HPV vaccination and includes a large collection of questions and answers related to both the vaccine and the disease.
A Look at Each Vaccine: Human Papillomavirus Vaccine. Questions and answers about the disease and vaccine.
Vaccineinformation.org: HPV Web section. A two-page color brochure for patients
Spanish-language version


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