Cervical cancer vaccine faces parental fear hurdle, study finds

Local | 6 Nov 2018 6:22 pm

A study has found that many Hong Kong parents fear that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are dangerous or ineffective, while some fear it will encourage their daughters to start having sex early, prompting experts to call for more education on the subject.

Medical experts say the free vaccinations planned by the government will be more effective only if it is accompanied by an education program for the parents as well as students, RTHK reports.

HPV is a virus usually spread through skin-to-skin contact and can lead to cervical cancer. The government wants to start offering the vaccinations to girls aged nine to 11 years, from the next school year.

But a study conducted by the Chinese University found that many parents fear the vaccines are dangerous. About 70 percent of them are worried about the side effects, while close to half questioned the vaccine's effectiveness.

Professor Paul Chan told RTHK's Phoebe Ng that about one out of 10 parents are concerned that getting the vaccines will encourage their daughters to start having sex too early.

"Some parents worry that vaccinating their children may give them a signal that they may go on to have earlier sex. The schoolgirls ... some of them may worry that the vaccine would affect their development... this kind of misconception," he told RTHK's Phoebe Ng.

More than 4,000 girls from 30 schools have received the HPV vaccination under the Chinese University study, which started in 2011.-Graphic: Chinese University of Hong Kong

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