HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and the vaccine protects against the nine high-risk strains responsible for most cases of cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and throat—and genital warts. Until now, the vaccine (Gardasil) was approved only for people ages 9 to 26, with the recommended age being 11 or 12, before girls and boys are likely to be exposed to the virus.
The new recommendation was based on research showing that the vaccine remains highly effective at older ages—and is safe. The three dose vaccine for adults is given over six months (younger people need only two doses). FDA approval usually leads to insurance coverage, though this may take several months. The Affordable Care Act requires most insurance plans to cover approved vaccines and other preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs to patients.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Which Vaccines Are Essential?