The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly interrupted delivery of key preventive services, resulting in many adolescents missing routine human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine doses. In response, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and nearly 80 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers and other organizations issued a joint statement urging the nation’s health care systems, physicians, parents and children, and young adults to get HPV vaccination back on track.
Almost 80 million Americans are infected with HPV, and nearly 36,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer this year. However, despite the availability of a vaccine to prevent HPV infections, HPV vaccination rates remain significantly lower than other recommended adolescent vaccines in the U.S. Even before pandemic, HPV vaccination rates lagged far behind other routinely recommended vaccines and other countries’ HPV vaccination rates.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019 just 54% of adolescents were up to date on the HPV vaccine, and that number has declined during the pandemic. HPV vaccination rates among adolescents fell by 75%, early in the pandemic resulting in a large cohort of unvaccinated children.
Parents and patients are urged to contact their local health department or health care provider to schedule an appointment for missed vaccinations today to prevent future cancers.
The U.S. currently recommends routine HPV vaccination at ages 11 or 12, or starting at age 9. Catch-up HPV vaccination is recommended through age 26. Adults aged 27 through 45 should talk with their health care providers about HPV vaccination because some people who have not been vaccinated might benefit.
Read the joint statement.
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