TUESDAY, Oct. 25, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Many females receive human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination after the recommended ages, often after sexual debut, according to a research letter published online Oct. 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Didem Egemen, Ph.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to estimate the proportion of females who were vaccinated before sexual debut and examined the association of delayed vaccination with the prevalence of HPV-16/18.

The researchers found that the prevalence of cervical HPV-16/18 decreased from 6 percent in the unvaccinated group to 3 percent in the postdebut group and <1 percent in the predebut group among the 4,727 females ever eligible for vaccination. The prevalence of HPV-16/18 was 89 percent lower in the predebut group but was not significantly lower (41 percent) in the postdebut group versus the vaccinated group. Predebut vaccination was associated with an 82 percent reduction in HPV-16/18 prevalence compared with postdebut vaccination. Only 21 percent of vaccinated, routine vaccination-eligible females reported receiving their first dose by age 12 years, per recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (mean age at first dose, 14.5 years). Overall, 33 and 23 percent were vaccinated predebut and postdebut, respectively. Of the vaccinated participants, 41 percent received vaccination postdebut.

“This study highlights the importance of timely vaccination against HPV, particularly before sexual debut, ” the authors write.

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