Why don’t adolescent girls in a rural Uganda district initiate or complete routine 2-dose HPV vaccine series:

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Abstract Introduction Vaccination with the 2-dose HPV vaccine series among adolescent girls in Uganda remains low after almost 5 years since the vaccine was included into the routine national immunization program and barriers are not well understood. Objective We explored barriers that prevent eligible girls from initiating or completing the recommended 2-dose HPV vaccine series in Oyam District, Northern Uganda. Methods A qualitative study was conducted in Oyam District, Northern Uganda. Forty interviews were conducted with adolescent girls, their caregivers, Village Health Team Members, health workers and school administrators involved in HPV vaccination. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. NVivo version 11 was used for data management and content thematic approach for analysis guided by the Social Ecological Model. Results At individual level, low levels of knowledge about the vaccine, girls’ frequent mobility between vaccine doses, school absenteeism and drop out, fear of injection pain and discouragement from caregivers or peers were key barriers. At the health facilities level, reported barriers included: few healthcare workers, inadequate knowledge about HPV vaccine, limited social mobilization and community engagement to promote the vaccine, limited availability of the HPV vaccine, unreliable transportation, lack of reminder strategies after the first dose of the vaccine, lack of vaccination strategy for out-of-school girls and un-friendly behaviour of some healthcare workers. Concerns about safety and efficacy of the vaccine, negative religious and cultural beliefs against vaccination, rumors and misconceptions about the vaccine, mistrust in government intentions to introduce the new vaccine targeting girls, busy schedules and the gendered nature of care work were key community level barriers. Conclusion Our study revealed an interplay of barriers at individual, health facility and community levels, which prevent initiation and completion of HPV vaccination among adolescent girls. Strengthening HIV vaccination programs and ensuring high uptake requires providing appropriate information to the girls plus the community, school and health facility stakeholders; addressing cold chain challenges as well as adequate training of vaccinators to enable them respond to rumors about HPV vaccination.
rural, Uganda, adolescent girls, 2-dose HPV vaccine series, caregivers, healthcare workers, community health workers, teachers
: Rujumba J, Akugizibwe M, Basta NE, Banura C (2021) Why don’t adolescent girls in a rural Uganda district initiate or complete routine 2- dose HPV vaccine series: Perspectives of adolescent girls, their caregivers, healthcare workers, community health workers and teachers