HPV Vaccination Rates Remain Below Recommended Target, Reducing Cancer Prevention Opportunities

According to a report from the President’s Cancer Panel, the HPV vaccine continues to be underused in eligible adolescents, thus reducing the ability to protect against HPV-related cancers such as cervical and oropharyngeal cancer, among others. 

“We have a safe, effective vaccine that protects against a cancer-causing virus, and we applaud the efforts of cancer and immunization leaders joining forces and rising to the challenge of accelerating HPV vaccine uptake,” said Barbara Rimer, DrPH, chair of the President’s Cancer Panel, in a statement. 

In a 2012-2013 report, the panel called for more widespread uptake of the HPV vaccine among eligible recipients. The percentage of adolescents who have begun receiving the HPV vaccine has increased by 5 percentage points each year since that recommendation. However, as of 2017, fewer than half of eligible U.S. adolescents were fully vaccinated.

 

The Healthy People 2020 initiative has a goal to vaccinate 80% of adolescents 13 to 15 years old by 2020, and the current stats indicate that this goal is not on track to succeed. 

The President’s Cancer Panel issued a renewed call to action to increase HPV vaccination rates nationally and internationally, given the findings. The panel recommended that providers work to reduce the number of missed opportunities to recommend and administer the vaccine to eligible adolescents. Instead of discussing the vaccination in an open-ended way, providers should assume that parents are ready to have their child vaccinated and strongly recommend it for both boys and girls in unequivocal language.  

Read the full report. 

CDC says oropharyngeal cancer is the most common HPV-related cancer. 

HPV test identifies cervical precancer earlier than Pap. 

Source: President’s Cancer Panel