HPV Vaccine Reducing Infections, Even Among Unvaccinated

Findings suggest 'herd immunity' taking hold against leading cause of cervical cancer

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Dr. Walter Orenstein, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on infectious diseases and associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, said the findings strongly suggest the beginnings of herd immunity against HPV.

"It's too early to be definitive, but there is a very strong suggestion that this vaccine not only protects the [people who received the vaccine] but protects the community as well," Orenstein said.

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that girls and boys get vaccines against HPV at age 11 or 12, before they've had sexual contact, or up until age 26 if they missed that window. The vaccine is given in three doses, each two months apart. Orenstein urged parents to follow the recommend schedule.

"This is a vaccine that can protect against cancer. It's important to vaccinate at the recommended ages, before there is sexual debut," Orenstein said. "Not only can vaccines protect individuals, but the more individuals who are vaccinated, the more likely the overall community is protected as well."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on vaccination schedules.

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