Immunization Matters – HPV vaccine

HPV vaccine for all girls, boys, and young adults:

The HPV vaccine protects against the Human Papilloma Virus, a virus linked to cancer: cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer in females, penile cancer in males, and both anal & oropharyngeal cancer in males and in females.

There are 3 HPV vaccines now currently available:

HPV 2v: Cervarix, made by GSK and FDA approved in 2009.
HPV 4v: Gardasil 4, made by Merck FDA approved in 2006.
HPV 9v: Gardasil 9, also by Merck and FDA approved in December 2014.

All three vaccines provide cancer protection against HPV types 16 and 18, the types of that cause the majority (64%) of all HPV cancers. HPV types 16 and 18 are to blame for about 21,300 cases of cancer each year, including 63% of all HPV-related cancers in males, 65% of all HPV-related cancers in females (including 66% of all cases of cervical cancer).

HPV 4v vaccine and HPV 9v vaccine also protect against HPV types 6 and 11, the types that cause 90% of all cases of anogenital warts.

The newest HPV vaccine, HPV 9v vaccine, also includes additional protection from 5 cancer causing HPV strains: 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. Overall, about 10% of HPV-related cancers, (about 3400 cancer cases each year), are linked to the 5 additional strains. It is important to note that most of the added protection from covering the 5 additional types is for females.

For males, HPV 9v vaccine provides only 4% additional cancer protection. For females, the HPV 9v vaccine offers protection against an additional 14% of HPV-related cancers overall, including 15% of cervical cancers and 25% of cervical pre-cancers.

HPV VirusThe latest ACIP recommendation for HPV vaccination was published in the March 27, 2015 MMWR:

  • Three HPV vaccine doses are recommended routinely starting at age 11 or 12, but vaccination can begin as early as age 9. This is a prophylactic vaccine so it works best when given before exposure to the virus. Also, the vaccine works better when given at this younger age because the immune system of these younger adolescents is so robust.
  • HPV vaccination is recommended through age 26 for all females and through age 21 for all males. Vaccination through age 26 is also recommended for immunocompromised males including those with HIV and for men who have sex with men.
  • HPV 9v vaccine is one of 3 HPV vaccines that can be used for routine vaccination. (HPV 2v vaccine is licensed only for females. HPV4v vaccine and HPV9v vaccine are licensed for both males and females.
  • Three doses of vaccine are needed. Any of the 3 vaccines can be used to start, continue, or complete the series for females. Either HPV 4 or 9 should be used to start, complete, or continue the series in males.