A new study published in PLoS Medicine has found that skepticism about the benefit of the HPV vaccine remains high among parents of adolescent girls.

Even when financial and healthcare barriers are removed, some parents remain hesitant to have their daughters receive the vaccine - the more educated parents are, the less likely it is they will consent, says the new study.  As a result, policymakers must spend more money to ensure that the debate is properly framed.

The authors surveyed parents of sixth-grade girls (age 11) in a publicly funded school-based program in British Columbia, Canada, to determine the level of uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine, and to examine the factors involved in their decision to allow receipt of the vaccine.

65% of the 2,025 parents who completed the survey had consented to their daughter receiving the first dose of HPV vaccine, though more than 85% of the parents reported to have consented to hepatitis B and meningitis C vaccinations for their daughters.

The naysayers were not the usual suspects;   Families with two parents or three or more children and having well-educated parents decreased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the vaccine.

Why did they say no?  Almost a third of the parents said concern about the vaccine's safety was their main reason, a lesser percentage felt the children were too young to need a vaccine against genital warts or a rare cervical cancer and one in eight said they had not been given sufficient information to make an informed decision.

A positive parental attitude towards vaccination and a parental belief that the HPV vaccination would not increase sexual practices in their children increased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the HPV vaccine.

Citation: Ogilvie et al., 'A Population-Based Evaluation of a Publicly Funded, School-Based HPV Vaccine Program in British Columbia, Canada: Parental Factors Associated with HPV Vaccine Receipt', PLoS Med 7(5): e1000270; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270