Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Rates Remain Low

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As reported in, a recent study by investigators at Emory University (Bednarczyk RA et al) have shown disappointingly low rates of vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV).  Current guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend vaccination against HPV at 11-12 years of age, and recommend two doses of HPV vaccine, 6-12 months apart, before the 15th birthday.

Using data from the National Immunization Survey – Teen (NIS-Teen) collected in 2016 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the investigators showed that only 43% of children aged 13-17 were fully vaccinated against HPV, while only 16% of 13-year-olds and 35% of 15-year-olds had received all recommended doses of the vaccine.

Nearly 80 million people in the United States are infected with HPV, which causes about 34,000 cases of cancer per year (including cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer in women, penile cancer in men, and mouth, throat and anal cancer in both sexes).  Efforts to improve vaccination rates, with a particular focus on patients 11-12 years of age, represent a critical public health priority.


Bednarczyk RA, Ellingson MK, Omer SB.  Human papillomavirus vaccination before 13 and 15 years of age: Analysis of national immunization survey teen data.   J Infect Dis.  2019 Jan 17. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy682. [Epub ahead of print]

For additional reporting in, click here.

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Jill Kolesar & Lee Vermeulen

Professors, University of Kentucky