By Kim Polacek
Adults now have the opportunity to safeguard themselves from developing several types of cancer. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the expanded use of the Gardasil 9 vaccine to include men and woman ages 27 to 45. Gardasil 9, manufactured by Merck, prevents cancers and diseases caused by nine types of human papillomavirus.
The approval is based on a study in women ages 27 to 45, showing that Gardasil was 88 percent effective in preventing persistent HPV infection and precancerous lesions related to the virus types covered by the vaccine.
An estimated 80 million Americans are living with HPV. It is so common that most men and women will become infected with one of the more than 100 types of HPV at some point in their lives. For most, the virus will clear the body or become dormant within a year. But some HPV types can persist and lead to cancers including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile and head and neck.
“It is very encouraging that as a scientific and medical community, we continue to look for new ways to extend the public health benefit of the HPV vaccine to a broader segment of the population. While most adults have been exposed to HPV, it is unlikely that they were exposed to all 9 types of HPV that the vaccine protects against. Thus, there are continued opportunities for health benefit from receiving the vaccine after age 27,” said Dr. Susan Vadaparampil, vice chair of Moffitt’s Health Outcomes and Behavior Department.
How do you receive the HPV vaccine?
The vaccine is given in three doses over a six-month period.
Can you be vaccinated if you currently have HPV?
If a person has already been exposed to a particular type of HPV, the vaccine will not work against that type. However, the vaccine is still recommended because it can provide protection against other types of HPV.
What types of HPV does Gardasil 9 protect against?
Gardasil 9 protects against the nine types of HPV that are responsible for the majority of HPV-related diseases. Those HPV types are 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
Common side effects include injection site soreness, swelling, redness and headaches.
How much does the HPV vaccine cost?
Out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine can range between $400-500.
Will insurance cover adult vaccination?
The FDA approval should clear the way for insurance to cover the cost of the vaccine.