By Isabel Stock, Colorado State University
Oregon Immunization Program Intern
Many parents who choose to vaccinate their children are faced with the worry, “Do I vaccinate my child for Human papillomavirus?” According to the 2012 National Teen Immunization Survey, one of the main reason parents that didn’t intend to vaccinate their children against HPV was a lack of healthcare provider recommendation. It’s time to frame the conversation between parents and providers on the importance of the HPV vaccination.
As a provider, it is important to recommend HPV vaccine as you would any other, especially on the same visit as other vaccinations. Here is a list of other important factors to highlight when discussing the HPV vaccine with parents:
- It is one of the only vaccines available to prevent cancer.
- HPV infection can be passed through any type of sexual activity, not just intercourse. Some types of HPV are spread by skin-to-skin contact.
- Multiple research studies have shown that HPV vaccine does not make kids more likely to be sexually active.
- HPV vaccine has a strong safety record. More than 62 million doses have been given in the United States, and there are no serious safety concerns.
- Put HPV first when listing the vaccines that the child needs during the visit. For example, “Your child needs three shots today: HPV vaccine, meningococcal vaccine and Tdap vaccine.”
- Vaccinate for HPV well before children might be exposed to it, just as you would for other diseases such as measles.
- Emphasize your personal belief in the HPV vaccine, and let them know that you have given it to your son/daughter/family member/friend. This is a powerful tool to help parents feel more secure about their decision
All of these tips will help educate the parent to make a decision and avoid missed opportunities to increase HPV vaccination rates. There are many more resources available to frame the conversation between providers and parents on the CDC website. Below is a great resource for providers to start.
When talking with vaccine hesitant parents, it is helpful to use a communication approach that guides rather than directs and encourages the parent to ask questions. Engaging with good communication strategies allows parents to come to a decision on their own, using evidence based facts delivered by the provider. This technique has been shown to help families and providers address concerns in a way that allows the provider to convey respect and empathy while sharing medical information. For more information on effective communication strategies see, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480952/.
To help parents understand just how safe, effective, and necessary this vaccine is for their children check out the National Cancer Institute’s recent Call to Action at, https://www.mdanderson.org/content/dam/mdanderson/documents/prevention-and-screening/NCI_HPV_Consensus_Statement_012716.pdf. Now, more than ever, it is important we give parents all the necessary facts about HPV vaccination to give their child the best possible chance to live a cancer free life.