Washington, D.C. — Lack of knowledge and concerns about the long-term side effects were the top reasons parents gave for not vaccinating their son against human papillomavirus (HPV), study results indicate.

Nationwide, only about 8.3% of adolescent boys receive at least one dose of HPV vaccine, and just 1.3% completed the three dose vaccine series.

To better understand reasons for poor HPV uptake in boys aged 9 to 17 years, David Jackson, DHSc, PA-C, of the Department of Physician Assistant studies at the New York Institute of Technology, in Old Westbury, and colleagues surveyed parents at five area pediatric and adolescent primary care offices.

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The findings were presented during a poster session at the American Academy of Physician Assistants IMPACT 2013 meeting.

A total of 112 parents with least one son aged 9 to 17 years completed the survey, which included yes/no, true/false, multiple choice and open-ended questions. Parental knowledge of HPV, the available vaccines and perceived barriers to vaccines was evaluated using Likert Scale.

Vaccine update among the study population was higher than the national and state averages at 16.1%, vs. 8.3% and 6.4%, respectively.

Although most parents answered general knowledge questions, about HPV and the vaccine correctly, 42% reported lack of knowledge as a barrier to vaccinating their son.

In terms of general knowledge, 83.9% of parents knew the HPV vaccine was available for boys and 58.9% knew the vaccine helps prevent genital warts, survey results revealed. However, only 13.4% knew that HPV can cause head and neck cancers.

“Education of patients, parents and guardian’s rests on the shoulders of the nation’s healthcare providers and initiatives should focus on the benefits of vaccination in the short term (protection against genital warts) and long term (multiple types of cancer),” the researchers wrote.


  1. Fungfeld C et al. Poster Session. “Human Papillomavirus Vaccine: Perceived Barriers Influencing Parents’ Decisions to Vaccinate Their Sons.” Presented at: American Academy of Physician Assistants IMPACT 2013 Meeting. May 25-29, 2013. Washington, DC.