The World Health Organization (WHO), in a revised position paper, has updated its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recommendations to include a single-dose schedule, an effort to expand vaccination amid a worrying global decline in coverage.
Earlier this year, WHO vaccine advisers endorsed the one-dose strategy as an alternative to the standard three-dose regimen.
In a statement yesterday, the WHO said a new position paper released last week states that a single-dose schedule can provide comparable efficacy and durability of protection to a two-dose regimen. It said the change is timely, due to a deeply concerning drop in coverage. Between 2019 and 2021, first-dose coverage dropped by 25% to 15%. "This means 3.5 million more girls missed out on HPV vaccination in 2021 compared to 2019," the WHO said.
The document replaces the WHO's 2017 position paper on HPV vaccines.
An optimized one-dose strategy would expand access and offer countries an opportunity to expand the number of girls who can be vaccinated, while reducing the burden of follow-up needed to complete the multidose series, according to the WHO.
The agency now recommends a one- or two-dose series for girls ages 9 to 14, one or two doses for girls and women ages 15 to 20, and two doses given 6 months apart for women older than 21. HPV vaccine campaigns are designed to reduce the burden of cervical cancer, which is the fourth leading cancer in women.