Managing several social media accounts for Voices for Vaccines, I am well aware that when we post something about HPV vaccines, I’d better have my Girl Scout cookies ready for some lengthy moderating of our accounts. HPV vaccine posts on social media get a lot of attention, especially the “I vaccinate but not with this one” type of comments.
Hesitancy specific to HPV vaccines has many causes, but one of the primary causes is that anti-vaxxers are especially adept at using social media to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about HPV vaccines in particular. A photo of a beautiful (usually white) girl and a title such as “The Decision We Will Always Regret,” and you’ve got hosts of parents asking their doctors to hold off on just this one vaccine–as well as doctors fearing the conversations about it.
The mess, of course, is bigger than that, but the social media aspect of it, now that’s something we can do something about. I believe so strongly that pro-vaccine advocates can reclaim the social media HPV vaccine story that I wrote about it in the recent Academic Pediatrics supplement in my article, “Social Media in the Exam Room: Stories of Human Papillomavirus Disease and Prevention”
In this article, (and quoting myself is admittedly awkward) I argue:
Although it might seem time-consuming to engage in these kinds of discussions on social media, sharing content about HPV cancer stories primes the exam room discussion about HPV vaccines in a positive manner. The exam room needs doctors, nurses, patients, and parents to create online content about their experiences with HPV cancer and the need for protection from HPV vaccines. In addition, social media is begging for more scientifically savvy users to start discussions about these stories by sharing them and wading into existing conversations.
Here’s a little call-to-action: Find some great HPV cancer content and share it in your personal and professional (where appropriate) social media spaces. Just place it there, and then get some Girl Scout cookies and engage whoever appears.
Here’s a brief list of some great HPV cancer content: