Despite significant evidence supporting the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the prevention of cervical cancer, uptake of this vaccine is below target in many countries. HPV uptake in Ireland has declined from 87% in 2014-15 to 51% in 2016-17 and currently remains suboptimal at 64.1% in 2017-18.
This study aimed to explore parental views of the HPV vaccine; elucidate specific concerns relating to this vaccine and to identify relevant influences on the decision to vaccinate against HPV to inform strategies to optimise uptake.
An in-depth qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews was conducted among parents of 11-13-year-old girls (n¿=¿18) who had not yet been offered the HPV vaccine. Convenience sampling was used. Interviews, conducted in the Republic of Ireland over six-months in 2018, were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed by thematic analysis.
Eighteen interviews were conducted (14 female and 4 male participants). Parents favoured HPV vaccination to protect their daughters and prevent disease. Barriers to vaccination included; the fear of long-term side effects, lack of knowledge and the risk versus benefit ratio. General practitioners (GPs) were identified as having a strong influence over parental vaccination decisions, as did media reports and the recent cervical screening programme controversy in Ireland.
This study suggests that significant parental concerns remain to the HPV vaccine. More comprehensive information on the research surrounding this vaccine's safety profile is required. GP's may play a pivotal role in HPV vaccination going forward.