CDC: Younger Patients Can Get Just 2 Doses of HPV Vaccine

Written By:Stacy Simon

Editor’s Note: Guidelines on recommended ages to get the HPV vaccine are updated as scientific evidence continues to evolve. Please read the most recent vaccination recommendations here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its recommendation for the HPV vaccination for ages 9 through 14. Children in that age group can now get just 2 shots instead of 3. The shots can be given at least 6 months apart. The CDC continues to recommend that most children get the vaccine at age 11 or 12.

Debbie Saslow, PhD, senior director, HPV Related and Women’s Cancers at the American Cancer Society, said the new recommendation will make it easier for people to get protection from HPV. “It’s a burden on parents to get teenagers to the provider’s office. The new recommendations not only cut down on repeated trips, but also spread out the recommended interval. This adds the flexibility that allows the second shot to be given at a time when the child will already be at the provider’s office for something else – an annual checkup, a sports physical, or even something like a strep test.”

The new recommendations come from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of medical and public health experts that develop recommendations on use of vaccines in the general population of the United States.

  • The first HPV vaccine dose is routinely recommended at 11-12 years old. The second dose of the vaccine should be given 6 to 12 months after the first dose.
  • Teens and young adults who start getting the vaccination at ages 15 through 26 years will continue to need 3 doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancer-causing HPV infections.
  • Children and teens ages 9 through 14 who have already received 2 doses of HPV vaccine less than 6 months apart, will require a third dose.
  • Three doses are recommended for people with weakened immune systems aged 9-26 years.

Saslow said that the American Cancer Society will now start the process of reviewing and updating its own guidelines about HPV vaccine use.

Why get the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine protects against human papilloma virus (HPV). Most cervical cancers are caused by HPV. The virus has also been linked to cancers of the vulvavaginapenisanus, and throat. HPV is also a major cause of genital warts.

Girls and boys should ideally begin getting the vaccine series at age 11 or 12. The vaccine causes a better immune response at this age than during the teenage years. Children are also likely still seeing their doctor regularly and getting other vaccinations at this age.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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