The U.S. in the midst of the worst measles outbreak in 20 years, and the resurgence is believed to be caused by individuals who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children. Deanna Kepka, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at University of Utah Health and Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator, is an expert on vaccines and understanding why people are reluctant to vaccinate despite scientific evidence indicating the benefits. She is available to discuss these and related topics.

As head of the Intermountain West HPV Coalition , Kepka investigates why Utah has one of the lowest HPV vaccination rates in the United States. Her research has determined the sociodemographic characteristics of groups that are often less likely to vaccinate. Focus groups and surveys carried out throughout the region have also uncovered reasons for failing to vaccinate including:

  • fear of exposure to harmful chemicals
  • confusion around potential side effects
  • distrust of the government
  • emotional impact of anecdotal stories
  • lack of access to vaccines
  • misunderstanding of vaccine costs

Many attitudes surrounding HPV vaccination mirror those around other vaccines such as measles.

Kepka and her team are now implementing interventions to boost HPV vaccination rates. Watch her give a TEDx talk explaining the need to vaccinate against HPV.