For the parents who said that they disagree with the aforementioned statement, they were then asked if they agreed with the statement, “It is okay to have these laws only if parents can opt out when they want to,” according to the press release. When given the option to opt-out of the required vaccination, 57% of the parents then agreed with the mandatory vaccination requirement, and 21% disagreed.
When speaking of the implications of having the option to opt-out, Dr. Calo said, “Any process for requesting an opt-out should have an educational component and encourage parents to carefully consider their decision.” Furthermore, Dr. Calo noted that if a large number of families decided to opt-out, then the HPV vaccination would not be as effective.
In addition to these findings, the web-based survey also discovered some of the reasons why parents did not support the HPV vaccination. A total of 32% of the parents who took the survey felt that “the vaccine was being promoted to make money for drug companies” and “only 40% felt that the vaccine was effective in preventing cervical cancer,” according to the press release.
When speaking of the need to change these perceptions, Dr. Calo said, “HPV vaccination saves lives. We have an unprecedented opportunity to prevent thousands of HPV-associated cancers through vaccination and unfortunately, we are missing that opportunity.”
Dr. Brewer noted that once other state efforts to raise HPV vaccination rates have proven successful, then HPV vaccination should be considered as a requirement for school enrollment. He recommended having state health departments centralize reminders to vaccinate, having states focus on quality-improvement visits to healthcare providers on HPV vaccination, and having states train physicians on how to use announcements as a way to introduce HPV vaccination.
The authors of the study noted that though the survey results were helpful, it did have its limitations. They felt that the respondents’ opinions might have differed if they had been prompted to discuss actual laws rather than hypothetic requirements. If the survey described the scope of opt-out provisions (medical, religious, or philosophical reasons) then the respondents’ answers may have varied even more.
To stay informed on the latest in infectious disease news and developments, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.