In the Journals

Report: Most US girls remain unvaccinated against HPV

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February 10, 2014

The President’s Cancer Panel today issued a call to increase the HPV vaccination rate in the United States and worldwide by promoting awareness, acceptance and availability of the vaccine.

The panel’s report included data from the CDC, which indicated only one-third of girls and less than 7% of boys in the United States aged 13 to 17 years had received the three recommended doses of the HPV vaccine in 2012.


Barbara K. Rimer

“Today, there are two safe, effective, approved vaccines that prevent infection by the two most prevalent cancer-causing types, yet vaccination rates are far too low,” Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, chair of the President’s Cancer Panel, said in a press release. “We are confident that if HPV vaccination for girls and boys is made a public health priority, hundreds of thousands will be protected from these HPV-associated diseases and cancers over their lifetimes.”

The CDC estimated that attaining an 80% vaccination rate would reduce the cervical cancer burden by 53,000 cases among US girls currently aged 12 years or younger.

Two-thirds of cervical cancer cases worldwide are associated with the HPV16 or HPV18 strains, infections from which are prevented with the two HPV vaccines, Gardasil (Merck) and Cervarix (GlaxoSmithKline).

Rimer and colleagues on the President’s Cancer Panel outlined four goals to maximize HPV vaccination rates.

Because data indicate that two-thirds of girls aged 11 to 12 years did not receive the HPV vaccine at an office visit during which they received at least one other vaccine, the report encourages health care providers to recommend the vaccine to age-eligible boys and girls. Electronic health records and immunization information systems, as well as health care payer provider reimbursement, are ways to reduce missed clinical opportunities to administer the HPV vaccination.

The report also recommended that communication efforts be made to increase acceptance of the vaccine among parents, caregivers and adolescents, and that the vaccine be made available outside of medical homes in venues such as pharmacies.

The panel encouraged President Obama, Congress and the US Department of Health and Human Services to maintain efforts to promote HPV vaccination programs in low- and middle-income countries worldwide, and to model countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and parts of Canada, where HPV vaccination programs have been effectively implemented.

In addition, the report highlighted areas for future research to increase prevention of HPV-associated cancers.

Researchers should investigate the potential for extended dosing schedules or fewer vaccine doses, as well as developing next-generation vaccines, according to the report.

Other high-priority research items outlined in the report included determining effective means of communicating about HPV-associated disease and vaccines, and incorporating cervical cancer screening with HPV vaccination moving forward.

For more information:

The President’s Cancer Panel. Accelerating HPV Vaccine Uptake: Urgency for Action to Prevent Cancer. Available at: Accessed Feb. 10, 2014.

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