UVA Cancer Center, other top US cancer centers urge cancer-preventing HPV vaccinations

STATUE: UVA Cancer Center joins 70 other National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer centers and partner organizations to urge physicians, parents, and young adults to receive cancer prevention vaccinations against human papillomavirus (HPV) … view more

Credit: UVA Health

UVA Cancer Center joins 70 other National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer centers and partner organizations to urge physicians, parents and young adults to get human papillomavirus (HPV) cancer prevention vaccinations back on track .

The dramatic decline in annual checkups and immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant decline in vital preventive services among American children and adolescents – especially for the HPV vaccine.

Nearly 80 million Americans – 1 in 4 – are infected with HPV, a virus that causes various types of cancer. Of those millions, more than 36,000 will be diagnosed with HPV-related cancer this year. Despite those staggering numbers and an available HPV vaccine, HPV vaccination coverage remains significantly lower than other recommended vaccines for adolescents in the US. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, HPV vaccination coverage lagged far behind other vaccines. According to 2019 data from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 54% of adolescents were aware of the HPV vaccine, while a 2019 CDC report found that more than 90% of American children were also against hepatitis B had been vaccinated. like measles, mumps and rubella.

Those numbers have fallen dangerously since the pandemic:

Early in the pandemic, HPV vaccination coverage among adolescents fell by 75%. As of March 2020, an estimated 1 million doses of HPV vaccine have been missed by publicly insured adolescents – a 21% drop from pre-pandemic levels.

“Resuming mainstream preventive health care should be a priority for all Americans, including the HPV vaccine,” said Thomas P. Loughran Jr., MD, director of UVA Cancer Center.

The US has recommended routine HPV vaccination for women since 2006 and for men since 2011. Current recommendations are for routine vaccination at the age of 11 or 12 or 9 years. Catch-up HPV vaccination is recommended up to age 26. NCI Cancer Centers strongly encourage parents to vaccinate their adolescents as soon as possible. The CDC has recently begun to recommend COVID-19 vaccination for children 12 to 15 years of age, and also allows missed doses of routinely recommended vaccines, including HPV, to be administered at or around the same time.

“We encourage all families, if they have not already done so, to speak with their child’s health care provider about including HPV vaccination as part of their immunization schedule,” said Emma McKim Mitchell, PhD, MSN, RN, co Director of Global Initiatives UVA School of Nursing

NCI Cancer Centers strongly urge health care providers to identify and contact adolescents in need of vaccinations and to use every opportunity to encourage and complete vaccination.

More information about HPV is available from the CDC and the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. This is the third time that all NCI-designated cancer centers have come together to issue a national call to action. All 71 cancer centers unanimously share the goal of sending a powerful message to parents, adolescents and health care providers about the importance of HPV vaccination for the elimination of HPV-related cancers.

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