OB/GYN offices may offer ideal venue for improving vaccine rates among women

Science Blog

April 2010

DURHAM, NC — Obstetrician/gynecologist offices may be the ideal venue for boosting vaccination rates among women, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center. They reported today on a successful pilot program focused on providing HPV (human papillomavirus) and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccines to non-pregnant and post-partum women.

The researchers say the program, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, could be a model for ob/gyn clinics across the country to increase much-needed immunizations among eligible adults.

“Ob/gyns don’t typically think of themselves as vaccinators,” says Geeta Swamy, MD, Director of Obstetrics Clinical Research at Duke, who presented the findings today at the CDC National Immunization Conference in Atlanta. “Even though we vaccinate pregnant women against a variety of diseases that are screened for during pregnancy, we still tend to think of vaccinations as happening at the offices of pediatricians, primary care physicians and family practitioners. But many women seek medical care from their gynecologists, even after they have children. Their annual gynecologist visit is a good opportunity to discuss preventive care which includes vaccinations.”

The North Carolina pilot program was set up to improve HPV vaccination rates among non-pregnant women. Preliminary data from one clinic shows that non-pregnant women were already being offered HPV, but when post-partum women were offered the vaccine, the rate of vaccination jumped from 0 to 44 percent. “These women would not have been vaccinated if this program was not in place,” Swamy said.

Even more significant was the increase in women who received the Tdap vaccine. “Nearly 600 women received the vaccine of the 1000 who were offered it,” she said. None had been offered it before.

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So let’s see you go in for an annual exam and a pap smear you are given the vaccine?¬† Does that make sense?¬† Maybe it is the only way to pressure women into getting the HPV vaccines.

PG

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.