I don’t think I have posted the latest good news about vaccines. As you know I am a huge proponent of vaccinating children (and ourselves), and remind patients that there continue to be ongoing studies regarding vaccine safety, as well as efficacy. The CDC and ACIP recently announced that the HPV vaccine may be protective and effective after just 2 doses of vaccine rather than the previous recommendation of a series of 3 vaccines. That is good news for teens, especially those that are “needle phobic”!
The ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended a 2 dose HPV vaccine series for young adolescents, those that begin the vaccine series between 11 and 14 years. For adolescents who begin the HPV vaccine series at the age 15 or older, the 3 dose series is still recommended.
This recommendation was based upon data presented to the ACIP and CDC from clinical trials which showed that two doses of HPV vaccine in younger adolescents (11-14 years old) produced an immune response similar or higher than the response in older adolescents (15 yrs or older).
The HPV vaccine, which prevents many different types of cancer caused by human papilloma virus, has been routinely recommended beginning at age 11 years approved to use as young as 9 years), but unfortunately only about 42% of girls and 28% of teenage boys has completed the 3 dose series.
By showing that a 2 dose series (when started at younger ages) is effective and protective the hope is that more and more young adolescents will complete the series. The two doses now must be spaced at least 6 months apart and may even be given at the 11 year and then 12 year check up which would not require as many visit to the pediatrician.
According to the CDC more HPV - related cancers have been diagnosed in recent years, and reported more than 31,000 new cases of cancer each year (from 2008 - 2012) were attributable to HPV, and that routine vaccination could potentially prevent about 29,000 cases of those cancers from occurring. But, in order to see these numbers shrink, more and more adolescents need to be immunized…before they are ever exposed to the virus. Remember, the HPV vaccine is protective against certain strains of HPV, but does not treat HPV disease.
So..once again a good example of using science based evidence to provide the best protection against a serious disease…with less shots too!! Win - Win!!