HPV vaccine even more effective than previously thought

child receiving vaccine The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV is linked to cervical, head and neck, vaginal, vulvar, penile and rectal cancers, as well as genital warts. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the HPV vaccine for all children before they turn 13. Now, a recent study suggests that the vaccine may be even more effective than previously believed.

Examining data from the New Mexico HPV Pap Registry from 2007 to 2014, researchers found that eight years after the HPV vaccine was first made available, the incidence of abnormal cervical cell growth, including pre-cancerous growth, was reduced by approximately 50 percent—far better than the reduction originally anticipated. Additionally, results showed that the vaccine provided protection even when only one or two doses of the recommended three-dose regimen were given.

Due to the results of this and other studies, the CDC recently updated its HPV vaccination guidelines, recommending that 11- to 12-year-olds receive only two doses rather than three. Adolescents ages 13 and 14 who have not yet been vaccinated are also eligible for the two-dose schedule. Teens and young adults ages 15 to 26 who are starting the vaccination series later will still need three doses for protection.