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PODCAST: Valuable insights gained from HPV and COVID-19 vaccine rollouts

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world witnessed the remarkable speed of vaccine development and the immense challenges posed by vaccine hesitancy.

In a new Voices of UMass Chan podcast episode, Grace Ryan, PhD, assistant professor of population & quantitative health sciences, discussed her research on vaccine hesitancy, particularly the parallels between the rollouts of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and COVID-19 vaccines.

“It is not all about the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the World Health Organization declared vaccine hesitancy one of the top 10 threats to global health and I think we have seen that play out over the past couple of years,” Dr. Ryan said.

HPV is a prevalent virus that is transmitted through person-to-person contact. The virus has the potential to develop into various cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for children ages 11 to 12 to prevent approximately 90 percent of HPV-related cancers. Despite its potential to save lives, the vaccine has encountered resistance, similar to challenges witnessed during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“A lot of our communication with the HPV vaccine rollout was around preventing a sexually transmitted infection, but a lot of the research has shown that communicating about it to parents as a cancer prevention vaccine is a much better way to talk about it to parents,” she said.

“We are in a critical moment now. We need to pay attention to how we are communicating about vaccines, how we are combatting misinformation and how we are going to address it moving forward.”

Since this podcast interview was recorded, the CDC recommended that all Americans 6 months and older receive at least one dose of the latest COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve received any original COVID-19 vaccines. Read about the latest COVID-19 vaccine recommendation:

Read about the latest CDC’s HPV vaccine recommendations:

Listen to the full Voices of UMass Chan podcast here: Subscribe through SoundCloud, Apple Podcast, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.