Tips for Talking to Parents and Teens


A Strong Recommendation

Data suggest that providers are not giving strong enough recommendations for the HPV vaccine when patients are 11 or 12 years old, and this contributes to low vaccination rates. The healthcare provider recommendation is the single best predictor of vaccination. The The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American College of Physicians (ACP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) are among the many groups urging providers to prevent certain cancers by recommending the HPV vaccine.

What you say and how you say it matters.



We have three vaccines that we recommend at the age of 11: Tdap, HPV, and Meningococcal. All three are recommended by the CDC. They are all safe. They are all effective. We give these vaccines at this particular age because their immune system is robust and they have a stronger response.

— Brenda Cassidy, DNP, RN, MSN, CPNP-PC. Assistant Professor, Health Promotion & Development, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh


Stress the importance of the HPV vaccine just as you would other adolescent vaccines. The HPV vaccine is necessary and shouldn’t be suggested as optional.

Here is a comprehensive resource packet with multiple fact sheets and brochures that includes the CDC’s tips and time-savers for talking with parents about HPV vaccine.


When Parents Have More Questions

To help with their decision making, parents may want to learn more about the vaccine and HPV. Some common concerns could include incidence of HPV infections and vaccine safety, efficacy, and side effects. The American Cancer Society has developed a “Myth Busters” document to help providers address misconceptions about the HPV vaccine.

Use motivational interviewing to help parents come to their own conclusion about the future health of their child.

You can help parents find our more about HPV vaccination with materials from the CDC, or by creating your own materials. JHF has developed vaccination brochures and posters for both parents and teens.

The HPV vaccine is our best tool to prevent your child from getting cancer and I think it’s really important that we give it to your child today. It may be more important than anything else we do at his/her wellness visit.  I have two teenagers and I made sure they both got the full series. I know that some people have raised questions or concerns about the vaccine’s safety. Those questions have never held up in any scientific study and we’ve given this vaccine more than 100 million times around the world, so I’m confident in its safety.
— Alan Finkelstein, MD, Faculty Physician, UPMC-Shadyside Family Medicine Residency Program and co-chair of the HPV Pittsburgh advisory committee


HPV Toolkit Links

Get Vaccinated. Get Involved. Help Spread the Word!