16% HPV Vaccination Rate Among US Adolescents 'Inadequate'

Maurie Markman, MD


February 21, 2019

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Hello. I'm Dr Maurie Markman from Cancer Treatment Centers of America, in Philadelphia. I wanted to briefly discuss a very interesting and concerning report which appeared in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, dealing with the percentage of US adolescents aged 13 years who had received a recommended human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.[1] Even though it has been recommended that adolescents aged 11-12 get the vaccination, only 16% of those aged 13 had received the vaccine in the most recent evaluation. It's important to note that at an older age, that number increases—but again, the recommendation is 11-12 years.

There are very important reasons why this age [is important]. The immune response of the younger adolescent is greater and the chances for both significant immunity and lasting immunity are greater. The amount of vaccinations that may be required may be reduced at a young age. And clearly it's known that HPV vaccination is an enormously important public health measure. Approximately 34,000-35,000 cancers in the United States each year are absolutely related to HPV infection, particularly cervix cancer, but also head and neck cancer and anal cancer. The ability to immunize against the development of persistent HPV infection is 70%-80%, and maybe even 90%, of the cases. This is an enormously positive public health measure.

All physicians, oncologists, primary care doctors, gynecologists, and pediatricians need to note the inadequate vaccination rate for this particular vaccine. I would encourage all to see what one can do to help. Note that other vaccines are given routinely at the age of 11-12, so giving HPV vaccination is part of a normal vaccination for adolescents that age. It should be routine. It's extremely important as a major public health cancer prevention strategy.

I would encourage all of you who are interested in this topic—and I hope all of you are—to consider what we can do to improve the HPV vaccination rate among adolescents in the United States. Thank you for your attention.

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