While vaccines have been around for many years and are able to help prevent many diseases, there remains a lot of controversy over whether children should be vaccinated for many reasons, including the potential adverse side effects from the vaccine. Parents have raised concerns about the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine including: (1) the child is not sexually active, so there is not a need to vaccinated; (2) safety concerns related to side effects and (3) they claim that the vaccine is not needed or necessary. In addition, many times this vaccine is not recommended by the child’s medical provider, so the parent does not know about the vaccine.
Regardless of the reason for not getting the vaccine, that decision has major ramifications. Currently, there are 30 types of HPV that are sexually transmitted and over 100 types that are t skin-to-skin. Dr. Joan Cates, a Senior Lecturer at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, has participated in several studies, some currently in the process, on the issue of HPV vaccination, specifically with young boys. In 2011, the recommendation came out that young boys should receive the vaccination that historically had only been recommended for girls. HPV can lead to a variety of cancers, not just cervical cancer in females. The “Protect Him” campaign focused on increasing the 13 year male vaccination rate. In this campaign, two major factors appeared to be important in influencing parents. First, parents reacted positively to information involving their son’s risk and the use of the word “protection” against disease. The measures that were evaluated in this study included: immunization registry data, awareness, attitudes, beliefs, provider recommendation, vaccination intentions and initiation. It was found from the study that those in the intervention group were 34% more likely to be vaccinated. In Dr. Cates’ newest HPV awareness study, responses pre- and post-intervention were remarkably similar regarding awareness. Dr. Cates is currently in the process of creating a video game study that would introduce adolescents to the HPV vaccine and provide them with important information. As someone with a chronic disease, Type 1 diabetes, it makes sense to be able to be protected from as many harmful diseases as possible. Many of the diseases that we have vaccines for are potentially deadly, if contracted. Who would not want to minimize his or her risk from these harmful and deadly diseases?
Photo Credit: Amanda Mezer