HPV vaccine uptake has not kept pace with that of other adolescent vaccines and has stalled in the past few years. The National Partnership is primed to support state cancer control coalition efforts to increase HPV vaccination rates as a critical approach for reducing the incidence of HPV-related cancers.
HPV vaccine uptake has not kept pace with that of other adolescent vaccines and has stalled in the past few years. In 2012, only about one-third of 13- to 17-year-old girls received all three recommended doses. These levels fall considerably short of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 goal of having 80 percent of 13- to 15-year-old girls fully vaccinated against HPV. Immunization rates for U.S. boys are even lower than for girls. Less than 7 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 completed the series in 2012. This low rate is in large part because the ACIP recommendation for routine vaccination of boys was not made until 2011. However, it is even lower than what was observed for girls in 2007—the first year following the recommendation for females—suggesting that concerted efforts are needed to promote HPV vaccination of males.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that increasing HPV vaccination rates from current levels to 80 percent would prevent an additional 53,000 future cervical cancer cases in the United States among girls who now are 12 years old or younger over the course of their lifetimes. Thousands of cases of other HPV-associated cancers in the U.S. also likely would be prevented within the same timeframe.
The President’s Cancer Panel finds underuse of HPV vaccines a serious but correctable threat to progress against cancer. Organized, mutually reinforcing efforts could have synergistic impact on HPV vaccine uptake. The ultimate goal is the completion of the full three-dose vaccine series by all age-eligible adolescents for whom the vaccine is not contraindicated.
According to CDC, missed clinical opportunities are the most important reason why the U.S. has not achieved high rates of HPV vaccine uptake. Many vaccine-eligible adolescents do not receive HPV vaccines during visits with their healthcare providers. As many as two-thirds of 11- and 12-year-old vaccine-eligible girls may not be receiving HPV vaccines at visits at which they receive at least one other vaccine.
Targeted efforts should be made to address factors that keep providers from strongly recommending HPV vaccines. Overcoming these obstacles could substantially reduce the number of missed opportunities to recommend and administer HPV vaccines. Thus, the National Partnership has an opportunity to support cancer control planning and implementation efforts related to HPV and contribute to improving vaccination rates nationally.
The HPV workgroup started out by identifying and mapping National Partner activities related to HPV vaccination. This has allowed the workgroup to identify possible opportunities for collaboration. The workgroup is planning on providing technical assistance to states with high cervical cancer mortality, low vaccination rates and limited support from National Partners and other organizations supporting cancer control efforts in the state, tribe and territories. The technical assistance will be held in 2016.