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Poll: Parents Wary Of HPV Vaccine Mandate

Most parents don't support requiring girls to get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) by ninth grade, a new poll shows.

Genital HPV is spread through sexual contact. Certain strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts, but most people with HPV don't develop cancer.

The CDC's current childhood immunization schedule recommends that young girls get Gardasil, the first vaccine against four strains of HPV linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. Specifically, the CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for girls aged 11-12. Girls as young as 9 years old can get the vaccine. Girls or women aged 13 to 26 can get catch-up shots.

The CDC doesn't require girls to get the HPV vaccine. But some states and Washington, D.C., have passed or are considering bills making the HPV vaccine mandatory for girls.

Those efforts are the topic of the new poll, which was conducted online in March by Knowledge Networks for the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

A total of 1,342 parents participated in the poll. They were asked whether they would support a state law that requires girls to receive the HPV vaccine before entering ninth grade.

Here are the parents' responses:

  • Strongly agree or agree: 44 percent
  • Neutral: 30 percent
  • Strongly disagree or disagree: 26 percent.

    For comparison, the parents were also asked if they would support a state law requiring children to get a new Tdap booster vaccine, which targets three diseases — tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough — that aren't spread through sex. About two-thirds of the parents — 68 percent — said they would support a state law mandating the Tdap vaccine for children.

    "These findings indicate that the American public is able to distinguish between new vaccines, and that legislative action on HPV may be somewhat disconnected from public sentiment," states the poll report.

    The poll also shows that less than half of the parents — 43 percent — agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "New vaccines are safe for my children." Those parents who agreed were more likely to back state laws requiring the HPV vaccine.

    By Miranda Hitti
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.
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