HPV vaccine available for broader age range

KYLE MOEN, Evergreen reporter

The Food and Drug Administration approved the Human Papillomavirus vaccine so now it can be given to people up to age 45, where the previous range for the vaccination was ages 9 to 26.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that has been linked to the development of cancer, said Troy Henderson, the director of Whitman County Public Health.

These include almost all cervical cancers and other cancers of sexual organs.

Henderson said most vaccines provide a dead or similar virus to the body and the body creates antigens that stay in the system to protect people against the real virus. These antigens can prevent the disease or reduce the severity and length, he said.

Henderson said he did not specifically know why the FDA made this vaccine available to older ages, but said it is common for vaccine approval to expand to a wider range of people as vaccines are more widely circulated and the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control see more results from its use.

When vaccines first become available, they are only given out to a small number of people, he said. As the vaccines are proven to be safe over time, they become more available.

The promotion of the vaccine’s expansion could have a significant impact on how many people ages 27 to 45 choose to get vaccinated, Henderson said. People usually find out about these vaccines when they meet with their medical provider.

“A lot of the use of this in a broader audience or the use of medications to a broader audience is often driven by primary care doctors,” Henderson said.

If people get vaccinated they reduce their chances of getting HPV and in addition will decrease their chances of getting cancer later in life, he said.