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‘This Shot Can Save Your Life!’ (Or Can It?): Framing of the HPV Vaccine in Teen, Parenting, and Women’s Magazines
Unformatted Document Text:  ‘This Shot Can Save Your Life!’ (Or Can It?): Framing of the HPV Vaccine in Teen, Parenting, and Women’s Magazines as talk about the vaccine’s approval had been going on for more than a year prior. Once the vaccine was available, each of these magazines had audience members who would be interested in this topic, and, it could be easily argued, needed to be informed about the vaccine. Therefore, the frames that emerged early are important to consider, both from a health communication standpoint as well as a journalistic one. Four of the women’s magazines all followed a similar trend. Self, Glamour, Essence, and Cosmopolitan all framed the HPV vaccine as being a huge medical breakthrough and as an extremely positive thing. The articles would use absolute terms when advising readers about whether or not to get the vaccine (“The answer is yes!”), 83 and often relied on fear appeals and “frightening” stories about cancer scares and humiliating wart outbreaks to try to convince readers to go out and get the vaccine. There was no attention paid to any possibility that there was a downside to getting the vaccine and rare mention of possible controversy over the vaccine. This frame continued through the beginning of 2010, (except in Essence magazine, as no articles appeared in 2010), when the frame changed to one of guarded optimism. The language in the magazine articles changed from “go get the vaccine” to “ask your doctor if the vaccine is right for you.” Additionally, mentions of the long-term efficacy of the vaccine began appearing for the first time. While the tone in the articles is still positive, it is much more subdued. Two of the women’s magazines, Ebony and Redbook, framed the vaccine with guarded optimism consistently across the entire sample. O, the Oprah Magazine, had no articles on the HPV vaccine written in the magazine at all during the entire sample. The fact that O did not cover the HPV vaccine at all is extremely interesting. According to their media kit, the magazine has more “moms” as readers than Redbook, Self, and Glamour; 4.2 million readers between the

Authors: Lepre, Carolyn.
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‘This Shot Can Save Your Life!’ (Or Can It?): Framing of the HPV Vaccine in Teen, Parenting, 
and Women’s Magazines
as talk about the vaccine’s approval had been going on for more than a year prior. Once the 
vaccine was available, each of these magazines had audience members who would be interested 
in this topic, and, it could be easily argued, needed to be informed about the vaccine. Therefore, 
the frames that emerged early are important to consider, both from a health communication 
standpoint as well as a journalistic one.
Four of the women’s magazines all followed a similar trend. SelfGlamourEssence, and 
Cosmopolitan all framed the HPV vaccine as being a huge medical breakthrough and as an 
extremely positive thing. The articles would use absolute terms when advising readers about 
whether or not to get the vaccine (“The answer is yes!”),
  and often relied on fear appeals and 
“frightening” stories about cancer scares and humiliating wart outbreaks to try to convince 
readers to go out and get the vaccine. There was no attention paid to any possibility that there 
was a downside to getting the vaccine and rare mention of possible controversy over the vaccine. 
This frame continued through the beginning of 2010, (except in Essence magazine, as no 
articles appeared in 2010), when the frame changed to one of guarded optimism. The language in 
the magazine articles changed from “go get the vaccine” to “ask your doctor if the vaccine is 
right for you.” Additionally, mentions of the long-term efficacy of the vaccine began appearing 
for the first time. While the tone in the articles is still positive, it is much more subdued.
Two of the women’s magazines, Ebony and Redbook, framed the vaccine with guarded 
optimism consistently across the entire sample.  O, the Oprah Magazine, had no articles on the 
HPV vaccine written in the magazine at all during the entire sample. The fact that O did not 
cover the HPV vaccine at all is extremely interesting.  According to their media kit, the magazine 
has more “moms” as readers than RedbookSelf, and Glamour; 4.2 million readers between the 


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