The Need for Increasing HPV Vaccination

High-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause the majority of throat, cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, and penile cancers. 

HPV vaccination prevents infection by virus types that cause the vast majority of these cancers and genital warts, but the vaccine works only if given well before an infection occurs. That’s why, in part, the American Cancer Society recommends it at ages 11 to 12. Vaccination at these younger ages also leads to a greater immune response.

While slightly more than half of boys and girls in the U.S. get at least the first does of HPV vaccine, too many are not fully vaccinated and are missing the protection it could provide against cancer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that vaccination rates for 1 or more doses of the HPV vaccine for adolescents have been increasing slowly since 2012.

Still, rates remain too low. The President’s Cancer Panel has previously stated that the “underuse of HPV vaccines a serious but correctable threat to progress against cancer.”