B118: Why are girls unvaccinated or under vaccinated against human papillomavirus? A content analysis
1UCL, London, UK
In the UK, uptake of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, for the prevention of cervical cancer, is good but not complete. This research explored why girls are un-/under vaccinated against HPV.
Girls aged 15 to 16, attending one of twelve schools located in ethnically diverse areas of London, were asked to report their HPV vaccine status in a questionnaire. Using free-text, girls were also asked to record reasons for not having the vaccine if they were unvaccinated (had not received any doses of the vaccine) or under vaccinated (had not completed the three-dose series). Responses were interpreted using content analysis.
Among those who were unvaccinated (n=202), girls commonly cited a lack of perceived need for vaccination, concerns about safety and lack of parental consent to explain their vaccination status. There were 57 girls who were under vaccinated. These girls stated that practical reasons affected their vaccination status such as wanting more information (e.g. about the schedule), administrative issues (e.g. school absence), health and procedural concerns (e.g. fear of needles). Reasons did not differ statistically between ethnic groups, but girls from Black and Asian backgrounds commonly stated that lack of need for the vaccine and girls from Black backgrounds often cited lack of parental consent without providing further explanation.
Vaccination uptake could be increased by addressing concerns about the safety of HPV vaccination and beliefs that the vaccine is unnecessary. Series completion rates could be improved by tackling practical issues.