HPV Vaccine Tracker
26 April 2021
In European Immunisation Week 2021 (26 April – 2 May), the European Cancer Organisation’s HPV Action Network is calling for the establishment of an HPV Vaccine Tracker to be hosted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This monitoring system would provide invaluable information about EU Member States’ progress towards meeting the Beating Cancer Plan’s goal of eliminating the cancers caused by HPV.
- Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan makes a commitment to support Member States’ efforts to extend routine vaccination against HPV of girls and boys in order to eliminate cervical cancer and other cancers caused by HPV. The objective is to vaccinate at least 90% of the EU target population of girls and to increase significantly the vaccination of boys by 2030. The Plan notes that Member States will play a critical role in meeting this target.
- National HPV vaccination programmes in 10 out of 27 EU countries are currently gender-neutral and eight others have made a commitment to introduce HPV vaccination for boys.1 Nine EU countries, one-third of the total, therefore do not currently have a gender-neutral programme or plan to implement one.
- Vaccination uptake in many EU countries is well below 90%.2 In Luxembourg, for example, the coverage rate for the final dose of the vaccine programme was just 14% in 2019. In France, the figure was 24%, in Germany 31%, in Italy 40% and in the Netherlands 53%. No EU country achieved an uptake of 90% or more for the final dose.
- In countries with gender-neutral vaccination, uptake rates in boys are generally lower than in girls. In Italy, for example, the rate in boys is 40% of that in girls for the final dose.2
- The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted HPV vaccination programmes and led to significant falls in uptake rates.3
- The HPV Action Network recommends that the implementation of the Beating Cancer Plan’s commitment to gender-neutral vaccination should be supported by the regular and accessible publication of EU-wide data on HPV vaccination in the form of an HPV Vaccine Tracker. This should include a range of key indicators including eligibility for vaccination, uptake (per dose), the vaccine type used and where the vaccine is delivered (eg. in schools, pharmacies, GP clinics). All relevant data on the Tracker should be sex-disaggregated.
- The HPV Vaccine Tracker will help to monitor progress towards the Beating Cancer Plan’s goals, flag up where progress is slower and where additional support may be required, and help to encourage Member States to adopt best practice and maintain momentum. The Tracker would map the recovery of programmes from the COVID-19 pandemic and also show how the EU as a whole is contributing to the global effort to eliminate the cancers caused by HPV.
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), as the EU agency working to strengthen Europe’s defences against infectious diseases and with a good track record of work on HPV issues, would provide the best platform for the HPV Vaccine Tracker. Its existing COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker provides an ideal model.4
- Baker P, Kelly D, Medeiros R (2020). Viral Protection: Achieving the Possible. A Four Step Plan for Eliminating HPV Cancers in Europe. European Cancer Organisation; Brussels.
- Bruni L, Saura-Lázaro A, Montoliu A, Brotons M, Alemany L, Diallo MS, Afsar OZ, LaMontagne DS, Mosina L, Contreras M, Velandia-González M. HPV vaccination introduction worldwide and WHO and UNICEF estimates of national HPV immunization coverage 2010–2019. Preventive Medicine. 2021 Mar 1;144:106399.
- Crul M, Aapro M, Price R, Couespel N, Lawler M (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer in Europe: The 7-Point Plan to Address the Urgency and Build Back Better. European Cancer Organisation; Brussels.
- ECDC COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker