Parents forgo vaccines for their teenage kids for a number of reasons, researchers said Monday in a paper reporting findings from the annual National Immunization Survey of Teens, which was published in the journal Pediatrics. That might mean that public health agencies need to try new things to get immunizations on target to prevent spread of the human papilloma virus, the cause of cervical and other cancers.
Overall, immunization rates among teenagers are on the way up, the Pediatrics study noted. Among boys and girls ages 13 to 17 rates went up from 72.2% in 2008 to 81.2% in 2010 for the vaccine for tetanus, diptheria and pertussis. Rates rose from 41.8% to 62.7% over the same years and the same ages for the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against meningitis. Teenage girls also completed the three-dose course of vaccination against the human papilloma virus (which causes cervical and other cancers) at higher rates, increasing from 17.9% in 2008 to 32.0% in 2010.
But immunization rates are not near the 90% levels officials have targeted within the decade. In cases where children were not up to date with their immunizations, parents were asked why. The most frequent reasons parents offered for choosing against getting Tdap and MCV for their kids were that the vaccines were "not recommended" or "not needed or not necessary."