Jan 27, 2016 10:00 AM

a needle and vial containing the HPV vaccine

Approximately 79 million people in the U.S. are currently infected with a human papillomavirus (HPV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 14 million new infections occur each year. HPV is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers. HPV is also associated with cancers of the anus, mouth/throat, vagina, and penis. The CDC reports that each year in the U.S., 27,000 men and women are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer. Even though many of these HPV-related cancers are preventable with a safe and effective vaccine, HPV vaccination rates across the United States remain low.

HCI and other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers recognize these low rates of HPV vaccination as a serious public health threat. As national leaders in cancer research and clinical care, we are compelled to jointly issue this call to action.

Even though many HPV-related cancers are preventable with a safe and effective vaccine, HPV vaccination rates across the U.S. remain low.

According to a 2015 CDC report, only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys in the United States are receiving the HPV vaccine. Utah is among those with the lowest HPV vaccine uptake in the U.S., and although rates increased in 2014 for both males and females, there is still much room for improvement.

Like all vaccines used in the United States, the HPV vaccines passed extensive safety testing before and after being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The 69 NCI-designated Cancer Centers urge parents and health care providers to protect the health of our children by taking action:

  • We encourage all parents and guardians to have their sons and daughters complete the 3-dose HPV vaccine series:
  • CDC recommends that boys and girls receive three doses of HPV vaccine at ages 11 or 12 years.
  • The HPV vaccine series can be started in preteens as early as age 9 and should be completed before the 13th birthday.
  • The HPV vaccine is more effective the earlier it is given; however, it is also recommended for young women until age 26 and young men until age 21. We encourage young men and young women who were not vaccinated as preteens or teens to complete the 3-dose HPV vaccine series.
  • Parents and guardians should talk to their health care provider to learn more about HPV vaccines and their benefits.
  • We encourage all health care providers to be advocates for cancer prevention by making strong recommendations for childhood HPV vaccination. We ask providers to join forces to educate parents/guardians and colleagues about the importance and benefits of HPV vaccination.

HPV vaccination is our best defense in stopping HPV infection in our youth and preventing HPV-related cancers in our communities. The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. More information is available from the CDC.

The Intermountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition is helping improve HPV vaccination uptake in the region by working with immunization programs, cancer control coalitions, pediatric and primary care organizations, and relevant stakeholder communities. Individuals or organizations sharing this goal are welcome to join the Coalition.

hpv vaccine cancer prevention cervical cancer oral cancer public health

Cancer touches all of us.

Share Your Story