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Maternal intentions for human papillomavirus vaccination of girls and boys in New Zealand

The human papillomaviruses (HPV) are a group of highly contagious viruses that are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact and sexual intercourse which can lead to certain cancers, including cervical cancer.

In New Zealand, 11- to 12-year-old girls and boys are eligible for free HPV vaccinations which provide protection against infection with HPV types that can cause cancer. Despite the proven efficacy of the HPV vaccine, worldwide uptake in young females is low and rates of parental refusal due to safety concerns are increasing.

The research project uses data from over 4000 children who participated in the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) cohort study, to explore maternal intentions to vaccinate their child against HPV, assessed at the eight-year data collection wave.

Findings and Future Considerations

Overall, the study noted that across a range of demographic factors, more mothers with daughters were more positive about the vaccine than mothers with sons, and more mothers with sons were undecided about the vaccine than mothers with daughters.

Despite the proven efficacy of the vaccine, global uptake is low and in developed countries approximately 69% have received the full schedule of vaccines.

HPV vaccine hesitancy is shown to be influenced by a variety of the mother’s socio-economic factors including ethnicity, education level, age and religious affiliation.

Addressing safety concerns regarding the HPV vaccine appears necessary for caregivers to have greater confidence in the vaccine and health care providers, vaccination resources, and experiences of health care access are important factors in this.

There is a need to develop context-specific interventions to improve confidence in HPV vaccination and for community specific engagement strategies to be developed.

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