January 12, 2021

UW Health encourages adolescents to receive HPV vaccine

Madison, Wis. — Everyone put something on hold in 2020. But in the new year, we should all be thinking about things that shouldn't wait.

HPV vaccines, for example, are recommended for both boys and girls at ages 11-12, and as early as age 9. It is important to start this vaccination process as soon as possible, because HPV - or Human Papillomavirus - is a common virus that causes six kinds of cancer in men and women.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and HPV is the probable cause of 91 percent of cervical cancers according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, the Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative, a statewide coalition dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer for everyone in Wisconsin, released the latest HPV Issues Brief (pdf), providing information on the virus and vaccine for Wisconsin residents.

According to the brief, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial declines in HPV vaccine delivery across the United States. While other vaccinations for infants and young children are approaching pre-pandemic levels, HPV vaccination among adolescents remains low.

"The HPV vaccine is really one of the most incredible tools we have at our disposal to prevent several cancers,” said Dr. Noelle LoConte, UW Carbone Cancer Center. "But for it to work we need to vaccinate kids, and the sooner the better."

As we continue to practice masking, hand hygiene, and physical distancing, we should not neglect important health screenings and vaccinations that are vital to our wellness.