ABSTRACT: Vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine fall below targets and only 2 states and the District of Columbia require the vaccine for middle school-age children. Messages conveyed through news media—to parents, providers, policymakers, and the general public—may contribute to sluggish vaccination rates and policy action. In this commentary, we review the findings from 13 published studies of news media coverage of the HPV vaccine in the United States since FDA licensure in 2006. We find 2 important themes in news coverage: a rising focus on political controversy and a consistent emphasis on the vaccine as for girls, even beyond the point when the vaccine was recommended for boys. These political and gendered messages have consequences for public understanding of the vaccine. Future research should continue to monitor news media depictions of the HPV vaccine to assess whether political controversy will remain a pronounced theme of coverage or whether the media ultimately depict the vaccine as a routine public health service.
- HPV vaccine
- health communication