Talk to parents about HPV vaccine
Recommend the HPV vaccine series the same way you recommend the other adolescent vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. For example, you can say "Your child needs these shots today," and name the all of the vaccines recommended for the child’s age.
Parents might be interested in vaccinating, yet still have questions. Taking the time to listen to parents’ questions helps you save time and give an effective response. CDC research shows these straightforward messages work with parents when discussing HPV vaccine, and they are easy for you or your staff to deliver:
• The "HPV vaccine is cancer prevention" message resonates strongly with parents. In addition, studies show that a strong recommendation from you is the single best predictor of vaccination.
Say, "HPV vaccine is very important because it prevents cancer. I want your child to be protected from cancer, and I know you want that too. That’s why I’m recommending that your daughter/son receive the first dose of HPV vaccine today."
• Disease prevalence is not understood, and parents are unclear about what the vaccine actually protects against.
Say, "HPV can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women, cancer of the penis in men, and cancers of the anus and the mouth or throat in women and men. There are about 36,000 of these cancers each year, and most could be prevented with HPV vaccine."
• Parents want a concrete reason why 11- and 12-year-olds should receive HPV vaccine.
Say, "We’re vaccinating today so your child will have the best protection possible well before the start of any kind of sexual activity. This vaccine can’t wait."
• Parents might be concerned that vaccinating might be perceived by the child as permission to have sex.
Say, "Research has shown that getting the HPV vaccine does not make kids more likely to be sexually active or start having sex a younger age."
• Parents might believe their child won’t be exposed to HPV because they aren’t sexually active or might not be for a long time.
Say, "HPV is so common that almost everyone will be infected at some point. Even if your son/daughter waits until marriage to have sex, or only has one partner in the future, he/she could still be exposed."
• Emphasizing your personal belief in the importance of HPV vaccine helps parents feel secure in their decision.
Say, "I strongly believe in the importance of this cancer-preventing vaccine, and I have given HPV vaccine to my son/daughter/grandchild/niece/nephew/friend’s children. Experts (like the American Academy of Pediatrics, cancer doctors, and the CDC) also agree that this vaccine is very important for your child."
• Understanding that the side effects are minor and emphasizing the extensive research that vaccines must undergo can help parents feel reassured.
Say, "HPV vaccine has been carefully studied by scientific experts. This is not a new vaccine and for years HPV vaccine has been shown to be very effective and very safe. Like other shots, side effects can happen, but most are mild, primarily pain or redness in the arm. This should go away quickly, and HPV vaccine has not been associated with any long-term side effects."
• Many parents do not know that the full vaccine series requires three shots. Your reminder will help them to complete the series.
Say, "I want to make sure that your son/daughter receives all three shots of HPV vaccine to give them the best possible protection from cancer caused by HPV. Please make sure to make appointments on the way out, and put those appointments on your calendar before you leave the office today!"