July 18, 2019
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Fewer than 40% of adults support mandatory HPV vaccination

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Findings published in Vaccine demonstrated that fewer than 40% of surveyed adults supported a policy requiring HPV vaccination for school entry.

Loren Saulsberry, PhD, instructor of public health sciences at the University of Chicago, and colleagues wrote that the vaccine has been “politically charged” since its approval in 2006 because the disease it prevents is sexually transmitted, and also because of several controversial legislative mandates.

The vaccine against HPV is a safe and proven cancer prevention method, so it is one that could have many benefits for public health,” Saulsberry said in a press release. “The better we can understand the public’s appetite for policies regarding HPV vaccination, the better we can implement approaches that are the most likely to be successful.”

Between May and June 2016, the researchers conducted a survey of 1,519 adults aged 18 to 59 years. Of these respondents, 290 were aware of the HPV vaccine.

More than half (59%) of the 290 adults who were aware of the vaccine supported a policy requiring pediatricians to offer it to children aged 11 to 18 years, but only 39% supported the vaccine being added to school requirements. Adults who believed that the science behind HPV vaccination was uncertain were less likely to support either policy (P < .0001). The researchers found that more women were supportive of physician requirements to offer the vaccine compared with men (65% vs. 50%; P < .05).

Among adults with some knowledge of the vaccine, only 44% of females aged 18 to 36 years and only 15% of males aged 18 to 33 years had been vaccinated against HPV.

“After more than 10 years of HPV vaccine use, school entry requirements remain underutilized as a tool to raise HPV vaccination uptake,” Saulsberry and colleagues wrote. “The observed lower public support for a school vaccination mandate in comparison with a requirement for physicians to offer the vaccine reiterates that the political will to pursue HPV vaccine school entry requirements may not be strong. Furthermore, the design of school entry requirements for the HPV vaccine may impact vaccine uptake as the inclusion of opt-out provisions have been shown to increase support while simultaneously limiting their effectiveness.” – by Katherine Bortz

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.