Understanding suboptimal human papillomavirus vaccine uptake among ethnic minority girls

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Jul;20(7):1463-72. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-11-0267. Epub 2011 May 20.


Background: The introduction of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines represents a breakthrough in the primary prevention of cervical cancer. However, little is known about vaccination uptake and correlates among low-income, ethnic minority, and immigrant populations in the U.S. who may benefit most from the vaccine.

Methods: Telephone interviews (N = 490) were conducted in six languages between January and November 2009 among mothers of vaccine-eligible girls (ages 9-18) using the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Office of Women's Health service referral hotline. HPV and vaccine awareness, knowledge, beliefs, barriers, and daughter's vaccine receipt were assessed.

Results: The sample consisted of low-income, uninsured, ethnic minority, and immigrant women. Only 29% of daughters initiated the vaccine and 11% received all three doses. No ethnic differences were observed in initiation or completion rates. Ethnic differences were observed in HPV awareness, perceived risk, and other vaccine-related beliefs. The strongest predictor of initiation was vaccine awareness (OR = 12.00). Daughter's age and reporting a younger acceptable age for vaccination were positively associated with initiation. Mothers of unvaccinated girls reported lacking information about the vaccine to make a decision (66%) and not knowing where they could obtain the vaccine (74%).

Conclusion: Vaccination rates in this sample were lower than state and national estimates, and were associated with low levels of vaccine awareness. Interventions, including culturally targeted messaging, may be helpful for enhancing HPV-vaccine knowledge, modifying vaccine-related beliefs and increasing uptake.

Impact: Our findings provide valuable guidance for developing interventions to address suboptimal HPV vaccination in high-risk groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Minority Groups / psychology
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines*
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines