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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 John, Pitts, and Tufts found that family viewpoints and parents as sources were almost completely excluded from the way newspapers covered the debate over the state-mandated HPV vaccine in Virginia. In their study about the framing of the HPV vaccine mandate, the authors note that omitting these family and parental viewpoints is both significant and concerning because the way vaccines are framed in the media plays a strong, “if not singularly definitive” role in how parents make decisions about having children vaccinated. 16 It is important to consider journalistic practice when thinking about source choice and framing. Journalists are taught, by in large, to see out balance in their stories, and to rely on authoritative, expert sources. However, this is what can complicate medical stories. While there is a need to have the expert source included, when the issue being covered has an impact on audience decision making, including those decision makers as part of the story creates a more complete picture and to provide context for the information, such as why should this vaccine be given to girls so young. On the flip side, John, Pitts, and Tufts note that this attempt to show “two sides to a story” can oversimplify a complicated discourse, especially when dealing with a health issue, or it may introduce a “false balance” by juxtaposing a questionable claim against a credible assertion. Therefore, they recommend that when analyzing coverage of a medical issue like the HPV vaccine, the results should be kept with this perspective in mind. When adult women and female college students have been asked about their knowledge levels about the HPV vaccine, and their attitudes toward getting the vaccine, the results are in line with what has been found in the content analyses to date. The women report having primarily positive attitudes toward the vaccine, though many still had not gotten it – citing

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
John, Pitts, and Tufts found that family viewpoints and parents as sources were almost 
completely excluded from the way newspapers covered the debate over the state-mandated HPV 
vaccine in Virginia. In their study about the framing of the HPV vaccine mandate, the authors 
note that omitting these family and parental viewpoints is both significant and concerning 
because the way vaccines are framed in the media plays a strong, “if not singularly definitive” 
role in how parents make decisions about having children vaccinated.
It is important to consider journalistic practice when thinking about source choice and 
framing. Journalists are taught, by in large, to see out balance in their stories, and to rely on 
authoritative, expert sources. However, this is what can complicate medical stories. While there 
is a need to have the expert source included, when the issue being covered has an impact on 
audience decision making, including those decision makers as part of the story creates a more 
complete picture and to provide context for the information, such as why should this vaccine be 
given to girls so young. 
On the flip side, John, Pitts, and Tufts note that this attempt to show “two sides to a 
story” can oversimplify a complicated discourse, especially when dealing with a health issue, or 
it may introduce a “false balance” by juxtaposing a questionable claim against a credible 
assertion.  Therefore, they recommend that when analyzing coverage of a medical issue like the 
HPV vaccine, the results should be kept with this perspective in mind.
When adult women and female college students have been asked about their knowledge 
levels about the HPV vaccine, and their attitudes toward getting the vaccine, the results are in 
line with what has been found in the content analyses to date. The women report having 
primarily positive attitudes toward the vaccine, though many still had not gotten it – citing 

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