HPV vaccine age range expanded

Cristhian Herrera, News Editor

Photo Courtesy | Zaldylmg via Flickr

By Cristhian Herrera

The FDA has expanded the age range of Gardasil 9, which vaccinates against the human papillomavirus (HPV), to extend past the previous cut-off age range of 9-26. The new vaccine was approved early October to now include women and men between the ages of 27 and 45.

“Today’s approval represents an important opportunity to help prevent HPV-related diseases and cancers in a broader age range,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said. “The vaccine has the potential to prevent more than 90 percent of cancers, or 31,200 cases every year, from ever developing.”

The Student Health Services (SHS) at A&M-Commerce and the maker of the vaccine, Merck, has a partnership that can help uninsured students by providing free access to the vaccine. If approved, students can receive the vaccine on site. Insured students are encouraged to go to their primary care physician (PCP) for inoculation.  

“I’m glad the FDA has approved the vaccine to the age of 46 years,” Maxine Mendoza-Welch, clinic director of SHS at A&M-Commerce, said.

However, no new information on the vaccine will be revealed until the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) discusses the modification of the vaccine in licensure at their October 2018 meeting.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. Over 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14 million teens and young adults contract the infection yearly. Since the infection is so widespread, it is estimated that almost every person will acquire an HPV infection at some point in their life.

There are over 150 HPV types that have been identified. Some of which (known as high-risk types) can lead to cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer in females, penile cancer in males, and anal and oropharyngeal cancer in both females and males.

For more information on HPV contact SHS or visit the CDC website for facts and brochures.