Adverse Effect Concerns Delay Human Papillomavirus Vaccinations
A study published by the JAMA Pediatrics on June 28, 2021, suggests that safety concerns or adverse effects as the main reason for refusing HPV vaccination increased over the years.
This finding has several important implications. First, given that concerns about vaccine safety are critical for vaccine confidence, rising safety concerns could negatively affect HPV vaccine uptake at the population level. Considering recent evidence of slowing routine HPV vaccination uptake, addressing safety concerns about vaccines should be of utmost public health importance.
Second, the findings of this study suggest that disinformation campaigns aimed at hampering vaccine trust are thriving. There has been a substantial rise of vaccine misinformation in the US that has culminated in public mistrust of vaccines.
The advent of social media and its exponential growth in popularity has spread misinformation to a wider audience within the general public. In some instances, misinformation has also been supported by influential public and political figures.
While these findings point to a need for widespread dissemination of educational programs within the general population, it is also crucial that public health agencies work with social media companies to develop campaigns to combat misinformation online.
Lastly, physicians have a crucial frontline role to play in addressing vaccine hesitancy during parent-physician encounters.
Despite several strengths of our study, including using a rigorously designed nationally representative sample, our study is not without limitations, including low response rate and potential nonresponse bias. However, statistical adjustments, including standard weighting procedures, have been applied to account for such potential biases.