We are delighted that our intervention, Making Effective HPV Vaccine Recommendations has been added to the RTIPs repository.
Requiring students to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) to enter school could prevent many cancers linked to the virus, but our research has found that many parents only support such requirements with opt-out provisions that could make the laws less effective.
In a national survey, we reported only one in five parents agreed that laws requiring HPV vaccination for school entry are a “good idea.” When added to the number of parents who only backed the requirements if opt-out provisions were included, support increased to nearly 60 percent.
School entry requirements are highly acceptable to parents, but only when implemented in a way that makes them ineffective. Opt-outs lead to many parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, and that makes requirements ineffective in raising vaccination rates.
It is surprising that so few parents understood that HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer. We would expect the number to be much higher given that national organizations have promoted the vaccine for the last decade. We should continue to communicate that the vaccine is an effective way to prevent cancer.
For health policy makers, the findings suggest that school entry requirements for HPV vaccination should be considered after states have implemented other approaches that work, including centralizing vaccination reminders in state health departments, focusing quality improvement visits to providers on HPV vaccination, and training physicians to use announcements to introduce vaccination. He said future studies will examine the potential spillover effect of requiring other adolescent vaccines on HPV vaccination rates.
Given the many challenges to enacting HPV vaccine requirements, it is unlikely that many states will pass these laws in the near future. Physicians and other health care providers are key to improving HPV vaccination uptake.