Improved HPV vaccine may prevent cancer
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that will target nine strains of HPV, whereas the original vaccine targeted only four. The new vaccine, Gardasil 9, was found to be 97 percent effective in preventing cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers caused by the additional strains of the virus.
“Vaccination is a critical public health measure for lowering the risk of most cervical, genital and anal cancers caused by HPV,” said Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement. “The approval of Gardasil 9 provides broader protection against HPV-related cancers.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 21,000 HPV related cancers could be prevented if more individuals were vaccinate. Yet the 2013 National Immunization Survey found that just 57 percent of girls and 35 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children get the vaccination when they are ages 11 or 12. For those who are not vaccinated at that age, the CDC encourages women to get vaccinated before the age of 26 and men before 21.
“HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer,” says Dr. Kerry Sheehan, a pediatrician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “Vaccination is the best way to protect oneself against this deadly illness.”
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