Controversy Undermines Support for State Mandates on the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

State actions requiring adolescent girls to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine created controversy following the vaccine’s approval in 2006. Some health professionals worried that the controversy might dampen public support for those state policies and for other school immunizations in general.

This study fielded an experimental Internet survey to determine how controversy affects attitudes about vaccines. The researchers discovered that public support for the HPV vaccine mandates wanes when the public is informed that the policies are controversial. The experimental survey, however, also revealed that exposure to this policy controversy did not spill over and reduce public support for immunizations in general.