HPV Vaccinations can Help Protect against HPV-Related Cancers
Currently, only 40% of young adults in the United States have received one or more doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, and only 22% have completed the vaccine series.i The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health’s Office on Women's Health is launching the second phase of the HPV VAX NOW campaign to address this gap. The initial campaign launched on January 6, 2021 to support healthcare providers who counsel young adults in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas by providing resources to promote effective HPV vaccine recommendations. The second phase of the campaign will target young adults ages 18–26 in the same three states, with the long-term goal of empowering all to complete the HPV vaccine series.
According to the most recently available data, in Mississippi and Texas, it is estimated that only 16% and 13% of young adults, respectively, have ever received a dose of the HPV vaccine.ii Similarly low coverage was estimated in South Carolina.
“With the HPV vaccine, we have a unique opportunity to save many lives that would otherwise be lost to cancer,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel L. Levine. “We must take every measure possible to ensure that everyone eligible for the vaccine receives it and is fully protected from the potential consequences of HPV.”
HPV VAX NOW was developed to increase young adults’ awareness of the risk for HPV-related cancers and help them recognize the protective benefits that the HPV vaccine offers. The campaign aims to dispel the myth that the HPV vaccine is only for women, encouraging all young adults – both males and females – who are not fully vaccinated to complete the vaccine series. Currently, the HPV vaccine is recommended for all women and men through age 26 who have not completed the series.
Dr. Dorothy Fink, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women's Health, emphasized, “Routine preventive health measures, such as receiving the HPV vaccine and regular health screenings, help to ensure the body is in peak condition for a healthy life. The HPV VAX NOW campaign is another way HHS is working to empower Americans to take control of their health and, therefore, their future.”
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine HPV vaccination for all boys and girls starting at age 11–12 years; the series can be started as early as age 9. For men and women who did not start or complete the series when they were younger, “catch-up” vaccination is recommended through age 26. Adolescents who initiate the HPV vaccine series before their 15th birthday need two doses for protection against HPV-related cancers. Those who start the series after their 15th birthday need three total doses of the HPV vaccine.
Read more about the HPV VAX NOW campaign. Campaign resources include information for young adults as well as guidance, tips, and resources for healthcare providers. Organizations can find messages and graphics to promote the campaign in the toolkit to reach young adults and the toolkit to reach healthcare providers. Vaccines are available at a variety of locations across the U.S.