Intent to receive HPV vaccine and reasons for not vaccinating among unvaccinated adolescent and young women: findings from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth

Vaccine. 2012 Mar 30;30(16):2676-82. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.02.007. Epub 2012 Feb 15.


Background and purpose: HPV vaccine coverage for females has increased in the U.S., although challenges to achieving high coverage remain. HPV vaccine coverage continues to lag behind that of other routinely recommended adolescent vaccines and these gaps in coverage are widening. To inform strategies to improve uptake, we explore correlates of vaccine intention and describe reasons for refusing HPV vaccination among unvaccinated females in a nationally representative sample of adolescents and young adults during early stages of HPV vaccine availability.

Methods: In 2007-2008, 1243 females aged 15-24 years were asked about HPV vaccination in the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). For unvaccinated women (n=955), we evaluated demographic and sexual behavior correlates of likelihood to receive the vaccine in the next 12 months in bivariate and multivariable analyses by age. Correlates to the main reasons for foregoing vaccination are described.

Results: A minority (42.5%) of unvaccinated respondents said they intended to receive HPV vaccine in the next 12 months: 37.6% of adolescents (15-19 years) and 42.0% of young adults (20-24 years). Sexually experienced women were more than twice as likely as non-sexually experienced women to intend to receive HPV vaccine (15-19 years: aOR=2.39, 95% CI=1.15, 4.94; 20-24 years: aOR=2.17, 95% CI=1.08, 4.33). Having health insurance was associated with being likely to receive HPV vaccine among adolescents. Hispanic young adults were more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be likely to receive HPV vaccine. The belief of not being at risk for HPV and institutional barriers were the two most commonly cited reasons for foregoing vaccination.Among unvaccinated women who did not intend to get vaccinated, respondents who never had sex were more likely to report not being at risk as the main reason for not needing the vaccine compared to women with sexual experience (44.5 vs. 24.4%) but this finding was only marginally significant in our limited sample.

Conclusion: In the first years immediately post-licensure of an HPV vaccine, the majority of unvaccinated women indicated that they were unlikely to seek vaccination. Intent to receive the HPV vaccine is tied to sexual experience and most women who do not intend to get vaccinated and have never had sex believe they are not at risk of HPV or do not need an HPV vaccine. These findings highlight the need to better communicate information regarding lifetime risk for HPV and the importance of receiving HPV vaccine prior to sexual initiation. These findings should inform strategies to increase vaccine uptake.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Data Collection
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Papillomaviridae / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / ethnology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • United States
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vaccination / trends


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines