A single dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine could be sufficient to provide good and long-lasting protection when offered in early adolescence, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said, after confirming that delivery of the vaccine had been interrupted by school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Priority for the delivery of the routine HPV immunisation programme should be for all eligible children to receive at least the first dose of the vaccine, including those who failed to get the first dose because of school closures, draft minutes of the committee’s June 2020 meeting show. They added that the interval between the first and second dose of HPV vaccine could be extended by several years without compromising protection.
The JCVI’s HPV subcommittee, which met on 21 May 2020, considered evidence on single dose HPV vaccination in order to advise the committee on whether this was sufficient to consider a move towards a single-dose vaccination programme.
John McSorley, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) — one of the organisations that provided evidence to the subcomittee — said he supported any “evidence-based move” from the JCVI that could reduce the number of doses required for HPV vaccination.
“It will simplify the process of delivery for both services and patients, provided that efficacy is not also reduced,” he said.
“There is accumulating evidence that there is protective efficacy after just one dose, and that immunity lasts longer than was originally expected, although it may be that a booster vaccination is needed for individuals at a later date.”
McSorley added that, in light of the ongoing disruption in schools and limitations placed on sexual health services as a result of COVID-19, it was important to prioritise giving a first dose over second or even third doses, to maximise the population impact arising from HPV vaccination.
“Ultimately, BASHH supports the extension of access to HPV vaccination protecting against HPV-related disease for all those who may benefit, both in the UK and worldwide.”
In 2019, the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) issued advice that an alternative schedule with an extended interval of three to five years between the first and second dose could be adopted in the context of a global shortage of HPV vaccine.