Tips and Time-savers for Talking with Parents About HPV Vaccine
Recommend the HPV vaccine series the same way you recommend the other adolescent vaccines. For example, you can say "Your child needs these shots today," and name the all of the vaccines recommended for the child’s age.
"Parents may be interested in vaccinating, yet still have questions. Taking the time to listen to parents’ questions helps you save time and give an effective response. CDC research shows these straightforward messages work with parents when discussing HPV vaccine—and are easy for you or your staff to deliver."
The "HPV vaccine is cancer prevention" message resonates strongly with parents. In addition, studies show that a strong recommendation from you is the single best predictor of vaccination.
"HPV vaccine is very important because it prevents cancer. I want your child to be protected from cancer, and I know you want that too. That's why I'm recommending that your daughter/son receive the first dose of HPV vaccine today."
Disease prevalence is not understood, and parents are unclear about what the vaccine actually protects against.
"HPV can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina and vulva in women, cancer of the penis in men, and cancers of the anus and the mouth or throat in both women and men. There are about 26,000 of these cancers each year—and most could be prevented with HPV vaccine. There are also many more precancerous conditions requiring treatment that can have lasting effects."
Parents want a concrete reason why 11-12 year olds should receive HPV vaccine.
"We're vaccinating today so your child will have the best protection possible long before the start of any kind of sexual activity. We vaccinate people well before they are exposed to an infection, as is the case with measles and the other recommended childhood vaccines. Similarly, we want to vaccinate children well before they get exposed to HPV."
Parents may be concerned that vaccinating may be perceived by the child as permission to have sex.
"Research has shown that getting the HPV vaccine does not make kids more likely to be sexually active or start having sex a younger age."
Parents might believe their child won't be exposed to HPV because they aren't sexually active or may not be for a long time.
"HPV is so common that almost everyone will be infected at some point. It is estimated that 79 million Americans are currently infected with 14 million new HPV infections each year. Most people infected will never know. Even if your son/daughter waits until marriage to have sex, or only has one partner in the future, he/she could still be exposed."
Emphasizing your personal belief in the importance of HPV vaccine helps parents feel secure in their decision.
"I strongly believe in the importance of this cancer-preventing vaccine, and I have given HPV vaccine to my son/daughter/grandchild/niece/nephew/friend's children. Experts (like the American Academy of Pediatrics, cancer doctors, and the CDC) also agree that this vaccine is very important for your child."
Understanding that the side effects are minor and emphasizing the extensive research that vaccines must undergo can help parents feel reassured.
"HPV vaccine has been carefully studied by scientific experts. This is not a new vaccine and for years HPV vaccine has been shown to be very effective and very safe. Like other shots, side effects can happen, but most are mild, primarily pain or redness in the arm. This should go away quickly, and HPV vaccine has not been associated with any long-term side effects. Since 2006, about 57 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed in the U.S., and in the years of HPV vaccine safety studies and monitoring, no serious safety concerns have been identified."
Many parents do not know that the full vaccine series requires 3 shots. Your reminder will help them to complete the series.
"I want to make sure that your son/daughter receives all 3 shots of HPV vaccine to give them the best possible protection from cancer caused by HPV. Please make sure to make appointments on the way out, and put those appointments on your calendar before you leave the office today!"