Estimating the number needed to vaccinate to prevent diseases and death related to human papillomavirus infection

CMAJ. 2007 Aug 28;177(5):464-8. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.061709. Epub 2007 Aug 20.


Background: A vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6, 11, 16 and 18 is now licensed for use in Canada and many other countries. We sought to estimate the number needed to vaccinate to prevent HPV-related diseases and death.

Methods: A cohort model of the natural history of HPV infection was developed. Model simulations were based on 209 different parameter sets that reproduced Canadian HPV type-specific data for infection, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, cervical cancer and genital warts. The number needed to vaccinate was calculated as the number of women who would need to be vaccinated to prevent an HPV-related event during their lifetime.

Results: Among 12-year-old girls, we estimated that the number needed to vaccinate to prevent an episode of genital warts would be 8 (80% credibility interval [CrI] 5-15) and a case of cervical cancer 324 (80% CrI 195-757). These estimates were based on the assumption that the vaccine procures lifelong protection and that its efficacy is 95%. If vaccine protection is assumed to wane at 3% per year, the predicted number needed to vaccinate would increase to 14 (80% CrI 6-18) and 9080 (80% CrI 1040-does not prevent), respectively. The latter number would be greatly reduced with the addition of a booster dose, to 480 (80% CrI 254-1572).

Interpretation: Our model predictions suggest that vaccination with the currently available HPV vaccine may significantly reduce the incidence of genital warts, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cervical cancer. However, the benefits (particularly in terms of cervical cancer reduction) are highly dependent on the duration of vaccine protection, on which evidence is currently limited.

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computer Simulation
  • Condylomata Acuminata / epidemiology
  • Condylomata Acuminata / prevention & control*
  • Condylomata Acuminata / virology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Sample Size
  • Uncertainty
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / prevention & control*
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / virology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology*


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines