Social media usage impacts perceptions about HPV vaccine among Kansans, professor says

Since the HPV vaccine became available in 2006, vaccination rates in Kansas have been historically low among children and teens. A University of Missouri professor tried to find out if social media usage impacted this statistic significantly.

“I think we should be cautious when we make our judgments,” said Monique Luisi, a strategic communication professor at the University of Missouri. “I found that Kansan parents who had reported seeing information about the HPV vaccine on social media were more likely to believe that the HPV vaccine was lethal in their children.”

The HPV vaccine is not lethal, on the contrary, it can really help prevent not only the underlying disease, but many secondary consequences.

“It’s not always the most comfortable thing to think about children being sexually active,” said Luisi. “At the same time, we need to remember that this is not just a STI-preventing vaccine, but it’s a cancer-preventing vaccine.”

The CDC reports that 92% of HPV-related cancers could be prevented with proper usage of the vaccine.

“There were 95 participants who completed the study,” said Luisi. “87% were women who identified as mothers. Most of the participants were between 37 and 52 years of age.”

These parents of 9 to 17 year olds were most likely to have seen information about the vaccine from healthcare providers.