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Peter Rønø Thingholm

Vaccine Hesitancy and Differential Susceptibility to Media Coverage: A Critical Documentary Led to Substantial Reductions in Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Uptake in Denmark

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Objectives: To investigate whether negative media coverage of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine led to a decrease in the uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine (HPV1) in Denmark and, importantly, whether some groups of individuals were more susceptible to negative media coverage. Methods: We measured HPV vaccine uptake of 12-year-old girls born in 2001 to 2004 using Danish administrative data. A quasi-experimental design was employed to assess whether a documentary that was critical of the HPV vaccine and aired in March 2015 affected HPV uptake. Results: The documentary led to a quick and substantial decrease in the monthly propensity to vaccinate, which dropped 3 percentage points—or about 50%—in response to the documentary. Responses differed substantially across subgroups, and girls from families with high socioeconomic status (SES) were more susceptible to the negative media coverage. Conclusions: Susceptibility to negative media coverage varied substantially across subgroups, highlighting the need for policy makers to appropriately target and differentiate initiatives to improve vaccine compliance rates.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Decision Making
Pages (from-to)550-558
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

    Research areas

  • HPV, media coverage, vaccine hesitancy, vaccine uptake

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