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Home HPV Vaccines HPV Vaccines HPV Vaccine Acceptance Among Parents

HPV Vaccine Acceptance Among Parents

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Most wouldn’t balk if the shots were required for school

A study finds that while parents are mixed in their views on whether or not HPV vaccines should be required to enter school, most would allow their children to receive the shots if they were required as part of a school-based program.

Since the first HPV vaccine was approved in the summer of 2006, the debate has existed regarding whether or not the immunizations should be included with those children must have before starting school. Opponents worry about the state meddling in what they feel should be a parental decision, while those who support mandating the vaccines say it promotes wide and equal access.

Two HPV vaccines are currently on the market, and both are shown to be most effective when given to adolescents before they become sexually active (and exposed to the virus). Younger subjects also tend to have a more robust immune response to the vaccines. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine use of HPV vaccines for girls ages 11-12, with catch-up vaccination through age 26. The ACIP provides guidance that the qparentsuadrivalent vaccine may be given, at the health care provider’s discretion, to boys the same age.

But what do mom and dad think about all this? Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia examined the attitudes of 325 parents of 9-17 year old children, and had subjects complete questionnaires that asked about demographic information, along with knowledge of HPV and HPV vaccines. Participants were also queried about their thoughts on making the vaccines mandatory for school entry and, were they required, whether or not they would allow their children to have them (school systems often allow parents to exempt their children from mandatory vaccine programs if they object for moral or religious reasons).

Just over half of parents said “no” when asked if they thought HPV vaccines should be added to the list of those required to begin school. Parents who supported making HPV vaccines mandatory for school entry were more likely to have incomes under $20,000, lack health coverage, and have personally had HPV. Participants were also more likely to approve of requiring HPV vaccines for school entry if they supported mandated vaccines in general, thought their child was likely to contract HPV, and believed the vaccines would reduce the risks of cervical cancer. Gender, race, and age of children did not impact parental support.

When asked about their views if an HPV vaccine was in fact mandatory for school entry, however, 66% agreed they would allow their children to have the vaccine. The remaining parents were split nearly evenly between those who would follow the advice of their family health care provider regarding HPV vaccines, and those who would sign a waiver preventing their children from receiving the shots. Parents who understood the vaccines can reduce the risks of HPV-related diseases were more likely to support mandatory vaccination, and the investigators say educating parents about the virus and it’s outcomes is an important consideration in increasing the number of children vaccinated against the virus.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year found that while the number of adolescent females receiving at least one dose of the HPV vaccine increased from 2007 to 2008, coverage with the vaccine was still low and varied among ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic lines.

D Ferris, L Horn, J Waller. Parental Acceptance of a Mandatory Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Program. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 2010. 23(2): 220-229.