This month the FDA approved Gardasil 9 (Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant) to be used for vaccination against nine types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This new vaccination will be able to help prevent five more types of HPV than the previous vaccination, and will work to prevent 90% of cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers. Although not yet available, the medical community is working on the release of the new vaccine for the near future.
HPV has a variety of types, and the vaccination works to prevent the types that most commonly lead to cancer. This new vaccination protects against types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. In the previous vaccine, only 16 and 18 were vaccinated against—and with Gardasil 9 an additional 20% of cervical cancers are now covered.
The vaccine is available for females ages 9 through 26 and males ages 9 through 15. The vaccines are administered at a doctor’s office over three separate doses—it is extremely important to receive all doses. The vaccine is most effective when administered at a young age before any sexual activity or exposure to strands of HPV.
What is HPV?
HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI). Many people do not even know they have HPV, and it is estimated that up to 80% of the world will become infected with HPV at one point in their lives. There are 40 different types of strands that infect humans, and the vaccinations work to protect the ones that most commonly lead to complications in men and women.
Not a high percentage of US receiving Gardasil 9
While cervical cancer is becoming easier to prevent, many Americans are still not taking advantage of this vaccine. According to MD Anderson Hospital, only 57% of girls and 35% of boys are vaccinated, and even less received all three vaccines. Currently, there are 10,000 deaths each year and 45,000 cases in the US from cancers that the vaccine could protect. The medical community hopes that high rates of vaccination could see this number decrease significantly in the future.
How to be Proactive
For both males and females it is imperative to have the vaccine at the appropriate ages. Parents should make sure to research and get kids vaccinated. Also, women should have pap spears when recommended. Cervical cancer can be preventable—and doesn’t have to keep ending lives.