New information indicates that an estimated 92% of HPV-related cancers could be prevented by vaccine. Several national professional organizations have come together to emphasize the critical importance of immunization visits to help teens receive the HPV shot and other needed immunizations.

• Data show that 51% of teens ages 13-17 years in the United States received all recommended doses of the HPV vaccine in 2018, a 2% increase from 2017.

• Research shows that HPV vaccination rates are higher in teens whose parents reported receiving a recommendation from their child’s healthcare provider.

While the CDC recommends that all preteens should receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine when they are ages 11 or 12 years to protect them before they are ever exposed, data from a 2018 nationwide survey indicate that few are receiving the shot. Overall, just 51% of all teens ages 13-17 years received all recommended doses of the HPV vaccine, a 2% increase from 2017.1

New data from the CDC indicate that an estimated 92% of cancers caused by HPV could be prevented by the vaccine.2 This news comes as several national professional organizations banded together to emphasize the critical importance of the 16-year-old immunization visit.

A future without HPV cancers is within reach. However, “urgent” action is needed to boost vaccine coverage rates, says Brett Giroir, MD, Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health. The federal agency will continue to push for increasing HPV vaccination coverage to 80%, set as the Healthy People 2020 target, he notes.

The American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College Health Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Pharmacists Association, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and Immunization Action Coalition are calling on healthcare professionals to ensure that all patients age 16 years receive the HPV vaccine and other shots as outlined in the Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2019.

Exam Provides Opportunity

In 1995, when the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) created a standalone column in its official schedule for children ages 11-12 years, both immunization rates and preventive care visits increased.2 Officials say establishing the platform for 16-year-olds will help ensure adherence to receiving recommended vaccines, as well as encourage such recommended adolescent screenings as those for sexually transmitted infections and anxiety/depression. Providers also can counsel on tobacco/alcohol use and substance abuse, as well as discuss pregnancy intention and contraception during such exams, officials state.

Establishing a healthcare visit for immunizations for 16-year-olds reinforces the need for a preventive health visit at that age, notes Amy Middleman, MD, MPH, MSEd, ACIP liaison for the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

“This visit enables providers to address multiple healthcare needs for the patient, with an age-appropriate emphasis on behavioral health needs,” said Middleman in a press statement. “By emphasizing the 16-year-old visit, providers have the opportunity to address other preventive strategies while also administering a high yield preventive strategy in the form of vaccines.” (The statement can be viewed at: https://bit.ly/2mu0T9a.)

Recommendation Makes a Difference

According to the analysis of the 2018 survey data, HPV vaccination rates were higher in teens whose parents reported receiving a recommendation from their child’s healthcare provider.1 Research indicates that clinicians play a key role in educating parents and are the most trusted source of information for parents of preteens eligible for vaccination.4,5

The HPV vaccine continues to be the best way to protect young boys and girls from developing certain cancers, including cervical cancer, said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD.

“This new data shows one in four parents who received a medical recommendation for the HPV vaccine chose not to have their child vaccinated,” Redfield said in a statement. “The HPV vaccine is safe, and we encourage parents to get their pre-teens vaccinated and take the next step to prevent their children from developing HPV-related cancer later in life.” (Redfield’s statement can be viewed online at: https://bit.ly/2zf6bYX.)

The push to increase adolescent HPV vaccination comes as ACIP approved use of the 9-valent HPV vaccine for persons ages 27-45 years. The committee’s recommendation is for men and women in the noted age range who have not previously received an HPV vaccine series and who are at risk for acquisition of HPV. While the shot is most effective when administered during the recommended ages of 11-12 years, some adults in the 27-45 years age range who are not vaccinated for HPV may decide to be vaccinated after speaking with their provider about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination.


  1. Walker TY, Elam-Evans LD, Yankey D, et al. National, regional, state, and selected local area vaccination coverage among adolescents aged 13-17 years — United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:718-723.
  2. Senkomago V, Henley SJ, Thomas CC, et al. Human papillomavirus-attributable cancers — United States, 2012-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:724-728.
  3. Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Establishing an Immunization Platform for 16-Year-Olds in the United States. Available at: https://bit.ly/2m473MW.
  4. Gilkey MB, Moss JL, McRee AL, et al. Do correlates of HPV vaccine initiation differ between adolescent boys and girls? Vaccine 2012;30:5928-5934.
  5. Stokley S, Jeyarajah J, Yankey D, et al. Human papillomavirus vaccination coverage among adolescents, 2007-2013, and postlicensure vaccine safety monitoring, 2006-2014 — United States. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2014;63:620-624.