What are the recommendations for administering the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine? —Robert Darnell, RN, OCN
Cervarix and Gardasil are FDA-approved, safe, and effective for females age 9 through 26 years. CDC recommends that all girls 11 or 12 years old receive the three doses (injections) of either brand of HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against most genital warts, as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina, and anus. Girls and young women age 13 through 26 years should receive the HPV vaccine if they have not received any or all the recommended doses when they were younger.
Gardasil is also FDA-approved, safe, and effective for males age 9 through 26 years. CDC recommends Gardasil for all boys age 11 or 12 years, and for males age 13 through 21 years, if they did not receive any or all of the three recommended doses when they were younger. All men may receive the vaccine through age 26 years, and should speak with their doctor about if receiving the vaccine is right for them. The vaccine is also recommended for or any man who has sex with men and men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) through age 26 years, if they did not receive the full vaccination when they were younger.
Gardasil is the only HPV vaccine that protects against HPV types 6 and 11, the types that cause most genital warts in females and males, and is the only HPV vaccine that has been tested and FDA approved for use in males. Although both vaccines protect against HPV-16, which is the most common HPV type responsible for HPV-associated cancers including cancers of cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, and anus and oropharynx, only Gardasil has been tested and shown to protect against precancers of the vulva, vagina, and anus.
The HPV vaccine is administered in three doses (injections) over 6 months. CDC recommends that the second dose be given 1 to 2 months after the first, and the third dose be given 6 months after the first dose.
HPV vaccines will not treat or cure existing HPV infections. HPV vaccines also do not treat or cure health problems (such as cancer or warts) caused by an HPV infection that was acquired before vaccination. Adult women should still undergo cervical cancer screening even if they have completed the HPV vaccine series. —Sandra Cuellar, PharmD, BCOP
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