Good News: Philadelphia HPV Immunization Rates are High

This graph shows that Philadelphia’s 2014 teen rates for ≥1 dose of HPV vaccine are higher than the state and national averages.

Last week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the National Immunization Survey (NIS) for adolescents in 2014.

Since it was licensed in 2006, HPV vaccine rates have been far below what doctors and public health experts would have wanted. The Healthy People 2020 goal is at least 80% coverage for boys and girls. Nationwide, HPV vaccine coverage rates have consistently been below 50%, but this year offered some hope, especially locally.

Among local areas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had the highest ≥1 HPV dose (80.3%) and ≥3 HPV doses (59.3%) coverage among females.CDC, July 2015

What does all this mean? HPV is a virus that can cause cancer (most commonly, cervical cancer), and is classified as a carcinogen by the American Cancer Society. The HPV vaccine is literally cancer prevention. HPV immunization is an investment in our future health. It can take decades for HPV-caused cancers to develop. Vaccinate now, and we should see a decrease in cancer.

We’re already seeing evidence of the benefits of the vaccine. Although HPV immunization is lagging behind in most of the U.S., Australia has had a robust immunization campaign for years. Early results show a 50% reduction in abnormal pap tests (an early indication of cervical cancer), and a 90% reduction in genital warts.

This should be exciting news for Philadelphians, who are leading the nation in HPV immunization.

2014 Philadelphia ≥1-dose HPV Rates for Teens (13-17)