May 29, 2014 — Moral concerns about the human papillomavirus vaccine are the leading barrier to vaccination cited by college freshmen, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' annual meeting, MedPage Today reports.
Researchers Jamie Phillipich and Margaret Webb of Grand Valley State University questioned 18- and 19-year-old students at the university about perceived barriers to receiving the HPV vaccine. Anonymous online surveys were sent to 1,000 of the university's incoming freshmen, prompting 146 responses, 69.2% of which were from women.
Among 109 responses that included vaccination status, 51.4% of students said they had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, while 40.4% reported receiving all three doses.
According to the study, 91.2% of respondents cited a mixture of morality-related issues as barriers to getting vaccinated. These issues included a combination of reasons such as the perception that the vaccine promotes sexual behavior, contradicts moral or religious beliefs or goes against parental views.
Other perceived barriers included lack of education about the vaccine, which was cited by 51.2% of respondents; cost, cited by 33.3%; lack of physician recommendation, cited by 25.2%; negative side effects, cited by 17.1%; and "negative media portrayal" of the vaccine, cited by 9.7%.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they obtained information about the vaccine from the media, but more than half of those individuals were skeptical of the information's accuracy.
The researchers wrote, "Vaccination continues to be a controversial topic for parents as rumors swirl through the mass media about the false complications associated with the vaccination."
They added, "As providers, it will be important to impart the most recent guidelines to patients and their families so they have the information they need to make informed decisions" (Susman, MedPage Today, 5/27).