The new CDC guidelines recommend 11- to 12-year-old boys and girls receive two doses of the 9-valent HPV vaccine at least six months apart. Adolescents and young adults 15 and older should continue to complete the three-dose series.
“This collaborative effort is a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness of these new recommendations and the importance of HPV vaccination, knowing that most people will be exposed to HPV at some point in their lives,” said Lois Ramondetta, M.D., professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine. “We hope that requiring two shots instead of three will make it easier for children to be vaccinated, bringing rates closer to the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent.”
The CDC reports that incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers continue to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the United States. Although HPV vaccines can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers, vaccination rates remain low.
Across the U.S., just 41.9% of girls and 28.1% of boys are completing the recommended vaccine series, according to a 2015 CDC report. In Texas, vaccination rates are even lower, with only 40.9% of girls and 24% of boys completing the vaccine series.
“Research indicates several barriers limit acceptance of the vaccine, including inadequate parental education and a lack of strong recommendations from health care providers,” said Ramondetta, who is also co-lead of MD Anderson’s HPV-related Cancers Moon Shot. “As oncologists who routinely witness the devastating effects of these diseases, we urge all pediatricians to recommend HPV vaccinations and prevent their patients from becoming our patients.”
Recognizing the need for collective action to overcome these barriers, NCI-designated cancer centers have organized an ongoing series of national summits to share research findings and discuss best practices for improving vaccination rates.