Despite a renewed push by health officials to promote HPV vaccination, a new poll finds that only a minority of parents believe laws requiring the vaccines “are a good idea." Others said they were worried the vaccines can cause serious side effects or that they’re a ploy for pharma sales.
According to the research, 21% of parents said they support laws mandating HPV vaccination as a school-entry requirement, but that number jumped to 57% if the laws were to include “opt-out” provisions. Pharmas Merck ($MRK) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) manufacture the shots and for years have battled barriers in growing uptake such as a sex stigma, safety concerns, misinformation and a reluctance by doctors to strongly encourage the vaccines.
Additionally, researchers found that 23% of the parents questioned vaccine safety and 32% said HPV shots are a sales ploy by pharma companies, ABC News reports.
The group conducted the work in response to a growing number of states considering such requirements; Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, D.C., currently require the vaccines for schoolchildren, according to ABC.
The new numbers add context to an ongoing push to promote HPV vaccination by pharmas and organizations including the National Cancer Institute and the American Society of Clinical Oncologists. In February, all 69 of the NCI’s Cancer Centers joined together and urged more vaccination, calling the vaccines “tragically underused.”
While a HHS 2020 initiative has set HPV vaccination goals for both boys and girls at 80%, 2015 CDC numbers show that only 40% of girls and 21% of boys have received the HPV vaccination.
Earlier this summer, Merck rolled out a new TV ad for its blockbuster vaccine Gardasil featuring images of a young man with cancer questioning whether his parents knew of a vaccine that could have protected him.
Gardasil generated $1.9 billion in sales last year for Merck, far outgunning GlaxoSmithKline’s $128 million tally for Cervarix, but both pale in comparison to early analyst estimates of $4 billion all the way up to $10 billion for the class.
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