Around 20 percent of girls from ethnic minority backgrounds are not being vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) because they feel they do not need to have it, according to a Cancer Research UK survey.
Some of the reasons for these girls not getting the HPV vaccine included:
- “Because I am not sexually active and will not be until I get married.”
- “My Mum didn’t think it was necessary for me to have the vaccine since I won’t be sleeping around.”
This is the first study done with an ethnically diverse group of girls to look at why they are not vaccinated or do not complete the series of injections.
Researchers found that 17 percent of girls from black backgrounds and 22 percent of girls from Asian backgrounds who had not been vaccinated said that they did not need the vaccination and the reasons they gave included that they did not expect to be sexually active before marriage.
Unvaccinated girls from black backgrounds were most likely—20 percent of those surveyed—to say their parents did not allow them to have the vaccination but without providing further explanation. The study authors think this could mean they had not had a conversation with their parents about the vaccine.
Concerns about side effects of the vaccination were most commonly reported by unvaccinated girls from white backgrounds—27 percent.
The questionnaire was given to girls aged 15-16 in ethnically diverse schools in London including girls from white, black, Asian, and other ethnicities. Although the majority of the 2,163 girls included in the research had been fully vaccinated, 233 were unvaccinated, and 122 under vaccinated—meaning they did not have every dose of the vaccine.
The vaccination protects against infection from the two types of HPV that cause seven in 10 cases of cervical cancer, as well as two other types of the virus linked with genital warts. It is offered as a series of two injections* over at least six months to UK schoolgirls aged 12-13.
Around 3,010 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK, and 930 women die from the disease.
*The girls in this study received three doses of the vaccine. It is now offered as a series of two injections.