CDC Recommends 2, not 3, HPV Shots for Preteens

CDC Recommends 2, not 3, HPV Shots for Preteens

This image made available by Merck in October 2016 shows a vial and package for their GARDASIL 9 human papillomavirus vaccine.

"Safe, effective, and long-lasting protection against HPV cancers with two visits instead of three means more Americans will be protected from cancer", CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement.

Children ages 11 and 12 only need two human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations to be adequately immunized, the CDC said Wednesday. Experts say busy parents sometimes struggle to get their kids to the doctor three times within six months to get all the shots. Some viral strains cause genital warts, and others can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis and back of the throat. Most infections do not cause symptoms and go away on their own, but the virus is still a leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide.

The panel made the recommendation Wednesday at a meeting in Atlanta. The two doses should be given at least six months apart, the agency said. Children first vaccinated after they turn 15 are still recommended to get 3 shots in total for optimal protection, however.

"It's not often you get a recommendation simplifying vaccine schedules", said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an outside expert group that advises the CDC, unanimously accepted the recommendation to move to two doses, based on an assessment from a work group tasked with studying the issue.

Vaccination rates have risen very slowly, and health officials have lamented the underuse of a potent cancer prevention tool. That's at least partly because some parents have anxious the vaccination seems like they are greenlighting their kids to have sex. That's because they didn't have enough data on how well two doses worked in older kids. Although research has shown the vaccine does not encourage promiscuity, some parents are still concerned that it will do so, or they feel their preteens are still too young for HPV vaccination.

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