Education and income are correlated with mothers’ attitudes towards the HPV vaccine

According to a survey conducted in Espoo and Oulu, the mothers of families with a lower level of education and income are more critical towards the HPV vaccine than the mothers of families with a higher socioeconomic status.

The HPV vaccine is included in the National Immunisation Programme for girls aged 11–12. The series of three shots is administered as part of school health care.

Socioeconomic family status affects attitudes

The results show that higher education, a better occupational position and higher income were correlated with more positive attitudes towards the HPV vaccine. The respondents with the most critical attitudes towards the HPV vaccine were those who are less educated and in a lower occupational position with a lower income level. This group of respondents also indicated a lower level of trust in the authorities compared to the group that had positive attitudes towards the HPV vaccine.

The research data did not reveal differences between the two cities. However, respondents who indicated they are religious were more likely to be critical towards the vaccine. In all of the respondent groups, the fear of unexpected side effects was the negative aspect most commonly associated with the HPV vaccine.

The results do not support generalised conclusions on the attitudes of mothers of girls in grades 6–9, nor do the results necessarily reflect the respondents’ attitudes towards all vaccines. Even among the critical group, more than half of the respondents indicated that they or a family member had previously elected to get a vaccine that is not part of the National Immunisation Programme, usually a hepatitis vaccine or the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine.

Fairness is one of the objectives of the National Immunisation Programme

The author of the study, pharmacist Pauliina Leivo, M.Sc., finds it worrying that families in lower income brackets choose to not have their daughters vaccinated for various reasons. This choice will be reflected in the long-term health of their daughters. One of the objectives of the National Immunisation Programme is fairness and comprehensive coverage for entire age groups regardless of the family’s socioeconomic status. Girls aged 11–12 years receive the vaccine free of charge under the National Immunisation Programme.

The survey had 685 respondents, 44% from Espoo and 56% from Oulu.