Understanding parents’ views toward the newly enacted HPV vaccine school entry policy in Puerto Rico: a qualitative study

Vivian Colón-López, Diana T. Medina-Laabes, Roxana Soto Abreu, Olga L. Díaz Miranda, Ana P. Ortiz, María E. Fernández, Pamela C. Hull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The Human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) is an essential tool for the prevention of HPV-related cancers. In Puerto Rico, the Secretary of Health established a school entry requirement of at least one dose of HPV vaccination in girls and boys aged 11 and 12 years, taking effect in August 2018. Our study aimed to examine parents’ and guardians’ views of unvaccinated children about the process of implementation of the new HPV vaccination school entry policy in Puerto Rico and identify potential barriers and facilitators related to the implementation of this requirement. Methods: During April through November 2019, we conducted three focus groups (n = 12) and eight in-depth semi-structured interviews with parents of children aged 11 and 12 who had not yet initiated the HPV vaccine series. The interview topics addressed were: perception of vaccination, HPV vaccine and it is inclusion as new school entry requirement practice, procedure of the sources of information, influencers, and willingness to change. The interviews were recorded and transcribed by our staff members. We identified emergent themes through thematic analysis. Results: The participants’ perspective on the HPV vaccine school requirement was mixed. Lack of information of the HPV vaccines and lack of communication about the school-entry requirement were the themes most mentioned in the interviews. Moreover, previous negative experiences from friends or family members and adverse effects deterred some participants from vaccinating their kids. We discussed barriers in the process of soliciting an exemption. Conclusion: Most barriers mentioned by study participants are modifiable. Information about the HPV vaccine mandate’s implementation and educational materials regarding HPV vaccine safety need to be provided to address parents’ concerns related to the vaccine’s side effects. Schools (teachers, principal directors, and administrative staff), the government, and parent organizations need to be part of these efforts. This multilevel approach will help to improve disseminating information about HPV vaccination to clarify doubts and misinformation among parents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1938
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • HPV vaccine
  • Hispanic
  • Parental perspective
  • School entry policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding parents’ views toward the newly enacted HPV vaccine school entry policy in Puerto Rico: a qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this