On October 25th, 2011 the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended routine use of the HPV vaccine in all males age 11 through 26 years. This changed from the previous 2009 recommendation that it be “considered” for males through age 26 years. Four Seasons Pediatrics highly recommends the vaccine for all males and females age 11 years and up.
Why are we making this recommendation?
1) There has been a statistically significant trend for increasing HPV prevalence with each year of age from 14 to 24 years. The majority of males and females will become infected before they turn 26 years of age. About 75 to 80% of males and females will become infected with HPV in their lifetime.
2) HPV is easily transmitted through adolescent experimentation – intercourse is not necessary to transmit the infection.
3) To date there has been no way to predict who will get infected and the infection is often without symptoms.
4) Though most will clear the infection, we have no way to predict who will clear the infection and who will go on to have a cancer from it.
5) There is an estimated 22,000 cancers per year related to HPV in the United States, including about 7,000 per year in males.
6) A highly effective preventive vaccine against HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 was licensed in June 2006 and recommended for routine use in females aged 11 to 12 years in the United States. Clinical studies of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine demonstrated close to 100% efficacy in preventing infection and disease associated with types included in the vaccine. These types cause about 75% of all cervical cancers.
7) The vaccine is most effective and produces a higher immune response the younger it is given.
8) We have found that patients who are younger are more likely to complete the series of vaccines when accompanied by their parents (i.e. college students are less likely to complete the series).
9) Despite internet information, rumors that state otherwise, the vaccine is very safe, highly effective and can prevent a cancer in your child.
10) Based on this information we strongly believe in and recommend that you consider starting your teenager or college student on HPV. When the vaccine was first approved in 2006, Four Seasons Pediatrics waited one year before endorsing the vaccine. We wanted to be sure that there were not rare side effects not initially seen in the studies performed. Now as of June 2012 over 46 million doses have been distributed in the United States. We feel confident that we know this vaccine.
What about booster doses of vaccine?
To date, it appears that 3 doses have shown excellent protection from the most common strains of HPV that cause cancer. While we cannot be absolutely sure that a dose may be recommended in the future, there is no evidence to date that any booster doses are needed.
What about side effects?
The only statistically significant side effect seen in the vaccine is fainting. This is more likely to occur in those who have a needle phobia. Pain during injection is reported to be slightly more likely than other teenage immunizations. It is not a soreness that persists like the tetanus vaccination.