Around 20% 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 study.
It 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.
“This study highlights a very worrying reason why girls from some minority groups don’t get the HPV vaccine”
Researchers found that 17% of girls from black backgrounds and 22% of girls from Asian backgrounds who had not been vaccinated said that they did not need the vaccination.
Reasons included “because I am not sexually active and will not be until I get married” and “my mum didn’t think it was necessary for me to have the vaccine since I won’t be sleeping around”.
Unvaccinated girls from black backgrounds were most likely to say their parents did not allow them to have the vaccination but without providing further explanation.
The study authors suggested 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%.
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 did not have every dose of the vaccine.
“Getting to the root of why some girls don’t have the vaccine will help us address these barriers to ensure every girl can receive this protection against the disease”
The Cancer Research UK-funded survey was presented today at the National Cancer Research Institute cancer conference in Liverpool.
Study author Dr Alice Forster, from University College London, said: “Although around 87% of girls in the UK do have the vaccine it’s concerning to see that some girls from some ethnic minority groups feel they don’t need to have it.
“Getting to the root of why some girls don’t have the vaccine will help us address these barriers to ensure every girl can receive this protection against the disease,” she said.
Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, added: “As someone with an ethnic minority background myself and as a parent, this study highlights a very worrying reason why girls from some minority groups don’t get the HPV vaccine.
“Gaining insight into the discussions at home and why girls chose not to be vaccinated against HPV is crucial to make sure we provide families with the best information and the confidence to take up the vaccination when invited to do so,” he said.