The Politics of HPV Vaccination Policy Formation in the United States

This research focuses on the perception of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as a program requiring policy action, and the political forces and environments surrounding it.

Politics play a critical role in health policy formation. This article examines the political dimension of policy formation around the human papillomavirus (HPV). To better understand the trajectory of public health policy developments and the influences on policy, this research focuses on how HPV was perceived as a program requiring policy action, as well as assessing political forces and environments surrounding the policy.

Case studies from six states, including: California, Indiana, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, and Virginia, were conducted. Key Informant interviews were held with policy stakeholders, and newspaper articles and archival materials were assessed. Content was analyzed using the Multiple Streams Framework to understand emerging themes.

Key Findings:

  • Participants included interviews of 73 key informants (51 solo and 9 group interviews) between Summer 2008 through Spring 2009.
  • HPV policy proposals were enacted in half of the sample states only after substantial revisions minimizing or eliminating coercive mechanisms.
  • Concern about the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine was a central issue of HPV policy debates.
  • Pharmaceutical companies were seen as overly involved in setting the HPV policy agenda.
  • Policy entrepreneurs were important in many states in determining policy outcomes.

The case of HPV vaccine is important to understand for future vaccination policy creation.