Rise in Safety Concerns Observed Among Parents With HPV Vaccine Hesitancy

Survey results indicate concerns regarding the safety of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are increasing among hesitant parents despite consistent evidence of the vaccine’s safety from trials and the reporting of adverse events.

Sonawane, et al. (2021) performed a parallel assessment of trends in HPV vaccine safety concerns and HPV vaccine adverse event (AE) reporting.

This study was a cross-sectional analysis of the National Immunization Survey (NIS) and Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Participants in the NIS were adolescents aged 13 to 17 years. AEs were reported to VAERS by patients, clinicians, or other sources. Statistical analysis was performed from October 2020 to May 2021.

Caregivers of 39,364 unvaccinated adolescents with a mean (SD) age of 15.57 (0.08) years (26,996 White adolescents [62.9%], 22,707 male adolescents [56.1%], 11,392 privately insured [62.6%], and 32,674 above the poverty level [79.3%]) reported their reasons for not initiating the HPV vaccine series in the 2015-2018 NIS. Citing safety concerns as the primary reason for not initiating the HPV vaccine series increased from 13.0% (95% CI, 12.1%-14.0%) in 2015 to 23.4% (95% CI, 21.8%-25.0%) in 2018 (P for trend < .001), equating to a change from 170,046 to 259,157 U.S. adolescents not initiating the vaccine because of safety concerns.

The proportion of parents citing safety concerns as the main reason for HPV vaccine hesitancy increased in 30 states. The largest increases (more than 200%) were observed in California, Hawaii, South Dakota, and Mississippi. During 2015 to 2018, 16,621 AE reports following HPV vaccination were reported to VAERS. The AE reporting rate per 100,000 doses distributed decreased from 44.7 in 2015 to 29.4 in 2018 (P for trend < .001). The serious AE reporting rate, including those leading to hospitalizations, disability, life-threatening condition, or death did not change.

In this descriptive cross-sectional study, a rise in citing safety concerns was observed among parents with HPV vaccine hesitancy, contrary to the non-serious and serious AE reporting trends. The researchers say these findings suggest an urgent need to combat the rising sentiment of safety concerns among caregivers to increase HPV vaccine confidence.

Reference: Sonawane K, et al. Trends in Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Safety Concerns and Adverse Event Reporting in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(9):e2124502. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.24502