Dr. Kenneth Lin is a board certified internist at Inova General Internal Medicine Group – Ballston. He has 21 years of clinical experience and special interests in preventive medicine, nutrition, and dermatologic procedures.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and a well-recognized cause of cervical cancer, genital warts, and oral cancers. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV. It can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
According to the CDC, every year approximately 14 million Americans are infected with HPV and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer associated with HPV.
The HPV vaccine is the best means of protection from the virus’s affiliated health problems – including cancer. Here’s what you should know:
What is the HPV vaccine and how effective is it?
The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It provides long-lasting protection against diseases – including cancers – caused by HPV when administered to the recommended age groups. There is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine loses the ability to provide protection over time.
Gardasil®, the first HPV vaccine, received FDA approval in 2006. It has since been replaced by Gardasil 9®, which covers more strains of HPV than the original version. Since 2006, studies have clearly shown a significant reduction in new cases of cervical cancer and the safety record of these vaccines has been excellent.
Who should be vaccinated against HPV?
Gardasil was initially approved for both males and females 9 – 26 years of age. The rationale for this schedule was to establish immunity in young people before they became sexually active and had potential exposure to HPV.
The CDC now recommends that all boys and girls ages 11 or 12 be vaccinated with two doses of the HPV vaccine to protect against HPV infections that cause cancer. They are administered 6 to 12 months apart.
Catch-up vaccines are recommended for boys and men through age 22 and for girls and women through age 27 if they were not vaccinated at a younger age. Teens and young adults who start the series later (ages 15 – 27) need three doses of the HPV vaccine to protect against cancer-causing HPV infection.
The vaccine is also recommended for teens and young men with weakened immune systems; teens and young men who are sexually active with other men; and transgender individuals until they are 27.
What’s new with Gardasil 9? Recent age eligibility changes
On October 5, 2018, the FDA approved a supplemental application to expand eligibility in men and women ages 27 – 45 to receive Gardasil 9. This was based on a study of 3,000+ women (ages 27 – 45) which demonstrated 88% efficacy in the prevention of cervical cancers, precancerous lesions, and genital warts. Read article from CNN: FDA approves use of HPV vaccine for adults 27 to 45
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is generally well tolerated; reported side effects are minor and typical of vaccines, including localized soreness, fatigue, headache, fever, and GI upset. Many people who get the HPV vaccine have no side effects at all.
Where can I get the HPV vaccine?
Speak with your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine. Inova primary care offices are pleased to offer Gardisil 9. To request an appointment: