Background: In August 2007 the Government of Ontario announced a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine campaign beginning September 2007 for grade 8 females. Vaccine was only available through public health clinics. The provincial HPV vaccination rate in the 2007/2008 academic session was 58%, lower than other school-based program coverage rates. Catch-up clinics were an opportunity to get vaccinated later in the school year if a parent changed their mind.
Objectives: To assess factors that influenced parental decisions around HPV vaccination of their daughters.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of parents of grade 8 females attending Toronto Public Health (TPH) HPV catch-up clinics in 2008 was conducted. Parents were asked to complete a standardized self-administered questionnaire. Univariate statistics were performed with SPSS to assess demographic characteristics of participants and parental reasons to vaccinate their daughters against HPV at the catch-up clinics.
Results: A total of 262 parents were recruited for the survey. The major reasons for receiving the vaccine were to prevent cervical cancer (66.5%) and to protect their daughter’s health (25.0%). Reasons for attending catch-up clinics included: absenteeism from school on the initial clinic day (48.2%) and change of initial decision to not vaccinate (23.3%). Parents who changed their mind about vaccinating their daughters cited the following reasons: recommendation from their doctor (41.0%), more time to make a decision (21.3%), recommendation from a friend/family (14.8%), more scientific information about the vaccine (14.8%).
Conclusions: Catch-up clinics provided an important opportunity to improve access and enhance HPV vaccination rates among grade 8 females in Toronto. The influence of physicians and additional time for decision-making played a role in catch-up clinic attendance. Future vaccine campaigns should engage primary care physicians and provide parents time to decide or provide opportunities to receive the vaccine at a later date.