Introduction The discovery and continued development of vaccines is arguably one of the most important innovations in human history. Vaccination greatly reduces the worldwide incidence and transmission of diseases, preventing permanent injury and premature death. Mass vaccination campaigns have led to the eradication or partial eradication of severe infectious such as smallpox and polio, have reduced childhood mortality, and has led to an overall increase in average health in the human population globally. Despite the documented benefits of vaccination, vaccine hesitancy is increasing, and the uptake of some vaccines is low. Vaccines have been so successful at preventing disease that portions of the population are now more afraid of the possible side-effects of vaccines then they are of the serious symptoms and maladies that vaccines prevent. Vaccine hesitancy is a serious concern for the global medical community. The incidence of infectious disease is inversely proportional to vaccine uptake; as fewer people are vaccinated against preventable diseases, the frequency at which people get sick increases. A reduction in vaccination rates due to vaccine hesitancy reduces herd immunity, which increases the risk for the whole population, especially immunocompromised individuals who are unable to receive vaccines. Vaccines that protect against high-risk strains of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) have recently been developed and released to the worldwide population. High-risk HPV strains can cause persistent infection and various cancers. Although HPV vaccines have been extensively tested and are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, uptake among some demographics is low. Understanding what factors impact HPV vaccine hesitancy can guide the design of effective interventions which can increase vaccine uptake. High HPV uptake will lead to a reduction of HPV associated cancers and reduce the transmission of high-risk subtypes. Research Significance Vaccine hesitancy is a growing challenge for the medical community and could potentially put global health at risk by undermining 200 years of progress towards eliminating infectious diseases. A better understanding of what factors impact vaccine hesitancy allows public health professionals to design better policies and interventions policies and helps primary care providers better address concerns the concerns of their patients. Better understanding of the factors which cause vaccine hesitance can be used to tailor education about vaccines. This leads to higher vaccine uptake and better community health overall. Methodology Electronically distributed surveys and statistical analysis were the primary tools used in this research. Surveys were used to generate data from a sample population, including: demographic factors, attitudes towards vaccination, and intent to vaccinate against HPV. Barriers to HPV vaccine uptake and factors that impact HPV vaccine acceptance were identified through statistical analysis, including confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, regression and univariate analysis. Findings We found that general attitudes toward vaccination had the greatest impact on the intent of parents to vaccinate their children against HPV. Parents who view vaccination positively intend to vaccinate their children against HPV or have already vaccinated their children against HPV. Parents who are somewhat unsure about vaccines are more hesitant about vaccinating their children against HPV. Knowledge about HPV increases intent to vaccinate. We found that traditionally religious parents who felt that religious adherence provided some protection against HPV were more hesitant about HPV vaccinations. We found that both a religious-focused intervention and an education-focused interventions increased parental intent to vaccinate more than a control intervention. Our study of Utah residents confirmed our earlier findings that general attitudes toward vaccination had the greatest impact on the intent of parents to vaccinate their children against HPV. Our study also confirmed that knowledge about HPV increases intent to vaccinate. We found that high religious practice negatively impacts parental intent to vaccinate. Cautious sexual attitudes also negatively impact intent to vaccinate against HPV. High religious practice is correlated with cautious sexual attitudes which explains the negative impact of high religious practice on intent to vaccinate. The findings of this research work will be used to inform future religious and educational based interventions in Utah and beyond.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Vaccine Hesitance, Vaccine attitudes, Vaccines, Human Papillomavirus, HPV, Religious attitudes toward vaccines, Christian, Utah



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Life Sciences Commons