Brazil below HPV vaccination targets, study shows

The nation will likely not be able to eliminate the disease by 2030

Published on 27/03/2023 - 14:25 By Alana Gandra - Rio de Janeiro

A study by Brazil’s Cancer Foundation, released to mark the World Cervical Cancer Prevention Day this Sunday (Mar. 26), reveals that all Brazilian capitals and regions have vaccination levels for HPV (human papillomavirus) below the targets set both domestically and by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The indicators show that the nation will not be able to reach the goal required to eliminate the disease by 2030. The survey is based on vaccination records for girls aged nine through 14 made from 2013 to 2021, and boys aged 11 through 14 between 2017 and 2021.

Throughout Brazil, the vaccination coverage of 9–14-year-old girls stood at 76 percent for the first dose and 57 percent for the second. Among boys between 11 and 14 years old, the proportion was lower than that of the country’s total female population. The coverage among them was 52 percent for the first jab and 36 percent for the second—far below the recommended level.


According to the survey, the North has the lowest rate for a complete vaccination scheme (first and second doses) for girls: 50.2 percent. Among boys, the percentage was no more than 28.1 percent. The region was also the one with the most deaths from cervical cancer from 2016 to 2020: 9.6 in every 100 thousand women, compared to the national average of six in every 100 thousand women.

In an interview with Agência Brasil, the Cancer Foundation’s medical consultant and study collaborator Flávia Corrêa said regional differences are striking. “Most apalling is that precisely the North and Northeast—with the highest mortality from cervical cancer—are the areas where we found the lowest vaccination coverage.”

Every multiple-dose vaccine, Corrêa noted, may face the issue of incomplete schemes, especially among teenagers. The issue does not assail Brazil alone, but the world. In the case of HPV, Brazilian authorities still recommend the two-dose inoculation, even though approval has been given by the WHO for a single-dose scheme depending on local circumstances.

A misconception

Flávia Corrêa said the coverage is lower for boys both for doses because people still fail to understand that vaccinating boys is necessary not only to protect girls from cervical cancer, but also because it benefits males. Vaccinating both sexes decreases the spread of the virus, she explained.

Boys can benefit, she went on, as it prevents cancer of the penis, oropharynx, mouth, anus, and more. In women, it also helps avoid cancer of the vulva, vagina, pharynx, and mouth: “We must spread the word,” Corrêa argued.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Graça Adjuto

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