UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Joins Other NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Urging Action to Get Cancer-Preventing HPV Vaccination Back on Track

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted delivery of key health services for children and adolescents, including HPV vaccination for cancer prevention. 

May 20, 2021

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers and partner organizations today issued a joint statement urging the nation’s physicians, parents and young adults to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination back on track.

Dramatic drops in annual well visits and immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a significant vaccination gap and lag in vital preventive services among U.S. children and adolescents—especially for the HPV vaccine.

Nearly 80 million Americans – 1 out of every 4 people – are infected with HPV, a virus that causes several types of cancers. Of those millions, more than 36,000 will be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer this year. Despite those staggering figures and the availability of a vaccine to prevent HPV infections, HPV vaccination rates remain significantly lower than other recommended adolescent vaccines in the U.S. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, HPV vaccination rates lagged far behind other vaccines and other countries’ HPV vaccination rates. According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), slightly more than half (54%) of adolescents were up to date on the HPV vaccine.

Those numbers have declined dangerously since the pandemic:

  • Early in the pandemic, HPV vaccination rates among adolescents fell by 75%, resulting in a large cohort of unvaccinated children.
  • Since March 2020, an estimated one million doses of HPV vaccine have been missed by adolescents with public insurance— a decline of 21% over pre-pandemic levels.

The U.S. has recommended routine HPV vaccination for females since 2006, and for males since 2011. Current recommendations are for routine vaccination at ages 11 or 12 or starting at age 9. Catch-up HPV vaccination is recommended through age 26.

NCI Cancer Centers strongly encourage parents to vaccinate their adolescents as soon as possible. The CDC recently authorized COVID-19 vaccination for 12-15-year-old children allowing for missed doses of routinely recommended vaccines, including HPV, to be administered at the same time. NCI Cancer Centers strongly urge action by health care systems and health care providers to identify and contact adolescents due for vaccinations and to use every opportunity to encourage and complete vaccination.

More information on HPV is available from the CDC and National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. This is the third time that all NCI-designated cancer centers have come together to issue a national call to action. All 71 cancer centers unanimously share the goal of sending a powerful message to parents, adolescents and health care providers about the importance of HPV vaccination for the elimination of HPV related cancers


NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Call for Urgent Action to Get HPV Vaccination Back on Track

Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

Albert Einstein Cancer Center

Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine

Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

City of Hope

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center

Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine

Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center

Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Duke Cancer Institute

Fox Chase Cancer Center, a part of the Temple University Health System

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center

Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone

Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Salk Institute Cancer Center

Sanford Burnham Prebys Cancer Center

Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center

Stanford Cancer Institute

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Jackson Laboratory Cancer Center

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai

The University of Kansas Cancer Center

The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

The Wistar Institute Cancer Center

UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center

UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center

University of Arizona Caner Center

University of California Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

University of Colorado Cancer Center

University of Hawaii Cancer Center

University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

University of Kentucky, Markey Cancer Center

University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center

University of Virginia (UVA) Cancer Center

University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Wake Forest Baptist Health Comprehensive Cancer Center

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Yale Cancer Center


American Association for Cancer Research

American Cancer Society

American Society of Clinical Oncology

American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

American Society of Preventive Oncology

Association of American Cancer Institutes

Cleveland Clinic Children’s

Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute

Prevent Cancer Foundation

Media Contacts:

Cynthia Patton