Most Parents Would Support School HPV Vaccine Requirements if
Offered Opt-Out Provisions
By Carrie Printz
Researchers recently found that parents are more likely to support laws that would make the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine mandatory for school entry if their state offered
opt-out provisions. However, the researchers added that such provisions may weaken the impact of these mandates. The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, was led by William Calo, PhD, JD, a postdoctoral research associate in the department of health policy and management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He and his colleagues conducted a web-based survey of 1501 parents between November 2014 and January 2015. Respondents had to have at least 1 child aged 11 to 17 years living primarily in their household. The survey asked parents about this statement: “Some states are trying to pass laws that would require all 11- and 12-year olds to get the HPV vaccine before they are allowed to start 6th grade.” Overall, 21% of participants agreed that such laws were a good idea, 54% disagreed, and 25% said they neither agreed nor disagreed.
Dr. Calo says that the latter group may benefit from public education regarding HPV vaccination and, as they learn about the benefits of vaccination, be more likely to support school- entry requirements. The respondents who disagreed that the laws were a good
idea were presented with a follow-up statement: “Is it okay to have these laws only if parents can opt out when they want to?” When this provision was added, approximately 57% of respondents agreed that school-entry requirements were a good idea whereas 21% disagreed.
Among other findings:
• Nearly one-third of respondents believed that the vaccine was being promoted to make money for drug companies.
• Approximately 40% believed that the vaccine was effective in preventing cervical cancer.
Dr. Calo notes that changing some of those perceptions would help to improve HPV vaccination rates along with legislating school-entry requirements. He adds that any opt-
out provisions also have the potential to weaken the overall effectiveness of HPV vaccination if large numbers of families opt out. As a result, such an option also should include an educational component to encourage patients to carefully consider their decision, he says. States should consider school-entry requirements for HPV vaccination after implementing other approaches, such as centralizing vaccination reminders in state health departments, focusing on HPV vaccination during quality improvement visits to providers, and training physicians to use announcements to introduce vaccination, Dr. Calo notes.
Why does any parent feel it is okay to mandate something that has no impact on a school classroom just because there is an opt out?
No it is not. We should not let the government think they can put more regulations and laws upon our bodies and our children’s bodies. This vaccine has nothing to do with public health policy. It is not transmitted in a casual school or work environment.