Purpose: Since March 2007, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends HPV vaccination for all 12-17 y-old females in Germany. In the absence of an immunization register, we aimed at assessing HPV-vaccination coverage and knowledge among students in Berlin, the largest city in Germany, to identify factors influencing HPV-vaccine uptake.
Methods: Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to 10th grade school students in 14 participating schools in Berlin to assess socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge, and statements on vaccinations. Vaccination records were reviewed. Multivariable statistical methods were applied to identify independent predictors for HPV-vaccine uptake among female participants.
Results: Between September and December 2010, 442 students completed the questionnaire (mean age 15.1; range 14-19). In total 281/442 (63.6%) students specified HPV correctly as a sexually transmitted infection. Of 238 participating girls, 161 (67.6%) provided their vaccination records. Among these, 66 (41.0%) had received the recommended three HPV-vaccine doses. Reasons for being HPV-unvaccinated were reported by 65 girls: Dissuasion from parents (40.2%), dissuasion from their physician (18.5%), and concerns about side-effects (30.8%) (multiple choices possible). The odds of being vaccinated increased with age (Odds Ratio (OR) 2.19, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.16, 4.15) and decreased with negative attitude toward vaccinations (OR = 0.33, 95%CI 0.13, 0.84).
Conclusions: HPV-vaccine uptake was low among school girls in Berlin. Both, physicians and parents were influential regarding their HPV-vaccination decision even though personal perceptions played an important role as well. School programs could be beneficial to improve knowledge related to HPV and vaccines, and to offer low-barrier access to HPV vaccination.
Keywords: Germany; human papillomavirus; knowledge; school students; vaccination status.